Popping the Cork: A New Year's Resolution for HS Patients
by Donna Atherton, MSW, CLC, Ed.D(c)
Before the ball drops in Times Square, promise yourself this year will be the year you become your own best advocate. Resolve to do what thousands of others need to do – make time for yourself, because in so doing, you make your time with others better and more valuable.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Those surviving with Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) know in ways others don’t that living with the disease can monopolize daily living and restrict from engaging in social activities that often leaves you in isolation. Quite simply, you deserve a break, especially when there are good days. Witness the enjoyment your family friends and/or loved ones may get from interacting, helping you get through the day. Lean on family and/or friends and let them help … they want to, you know! And belonging to a church, a synagogue or other religious organization can be very rewarding. Not only will you benefit from interacting with others who believe as you do, you’ll learn firsthand about the miracle of faith.
Laugh, Exercise and Relax
Laugh, exercise and relax, not necessarily in that order. But understand the importance of letting go. Laughter has long been touted as an antidote for what ails you, and exercise tones our bodies as well as our minds. It helps to relax muscles, relieves pain and boosts the immune system. Laughter and exercise together are a formidable formula for relaxation, that latter literally a key to life. As for how to do the “ha-ha-ha,” why not rent a funny movie? Read a captivating book? Tell a joke? You can do it. After all, life can be a grin.
It’s All About You
Maintain “me” time. No matter your obligations, or current symptoms of HS. Engage in hobbies and personal routines. Read a good book, dig in the dirt, create a scrapbook or even cook. Take a warm bubble bath. Light some candles. Treat yourself to a manicure or a pedicure. Or maybe even schedule a massage. Keep up with friends and social activities. After all, time away can be a quality investment since you will return refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges.
Your outlook is contagious and by turning the corners of your mouth up, you just might have a different perspective on your barriers living with Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS). Keeping a journal can provide an outlet for your emotions and can double as a barometer of your moods and attitudes.
Take Care of Yourself
This includes eating regular, well-balanced and healthy meals; sleeping well; minimizing smoking or, better yet, quitting; and limiting alcohol as well as caffeine consumption. Frank. J. Falco, MD, who specializes in pain management and sleep problems in Newark, Del Plus,, notes pain causes anxiety, which disrupts sleep even more.
In addition to preventing a person from falling asleep, pain also results in difficulty staying asleep. And once pain keeps you awake one night, it is likely to do the same thing again and again. Pain-related insomnia gets worse over time.
Unfortunately, some medications prescribed for pain, such as codeine and morphine, can cause insomnia. These opioid pain medications can cause apnea, brief pauses in breathing, during sleep. “Therefore, people who take these kinds of medications for chronic pain are at a higher risk for sleep problems,” Falco says.
People with chronic pain may have trouble exercising. Lack of exercise leads to weight gain. Excess weight then restricts exercise, which leads to more pounds gained. “This vicious cycle can lead to sleep apnea, which prevents a restful night’s sleep,” Falco says.
However, when done effectively, as little as 10 minutes of daily meditation can help your mind ignore the pain, Marks says. There are many different types of meditation, including guided meditation, tai chi, and yoga.
If pain keeps you up, take comfort in knowing you are not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, two out of three people with chronic pain have trouble sleeping.
“But no matter what the cause, it is the intensity and quality of the pain, not necessarily the type, that determines the impact on a person’s quality of life, including sleep,” says Falco, who heads Mid-Atlantic Spine and Pain.
So there you have it. Five resolutions you should be sure to keep in this year! At a time of life when the daunting burden of caring for a disabled loved one will no doubt be added to an already-heavy load, it’s important to remember your own best health is a necessary pre-requisite to good care. Know you are investing in your own best future by taking care of the business of love.
Ready? Set! 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 … Happy New Year!
Falcon, F. D. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.midatlanticspine.com/?ftr=vidpgurl.
Marks, T. I. (2011). Master your sleep - Proven methods simplified. Minneapolis, MN: Bascom Hill Publishing Group.
National Sleep Foundation. (2015). Pain and Sleep. Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/pain-and-sleep.