by Dr. Nachiket Kulkarni
"A friend in need is a friend in deed". This saying has been etched in our minds. An extension of this philosophy is we are our owns best friend. In an era when we are realising that most disorders or sufferings are man made or certainly worsened by our own actions would it not be common sense to take Self Care.
Most Rheumatic diseases are chronic and affect many aspects of our life. Pain is not the only cause of suffering but the disability attached as an extra offer! Is probably more a bigger concern. It has been found that when a patient of these disorders are empowered they do much better. Seems Common Sense right!
Self Care hence forms a basic part of treatment as important as medications may be more!! Self care starts from understanding the disease process. By the way the first question should not be is it curable? It should be: Am i going to be living a happy and functional life? Try to discuss with your doctor about the disease process a the worst case scenarios. Self care starts with first shedding the fear and adjusting to the requirements. Do not go by others experience ; your life is your own for making. Once you are aware of the disease process please discuss about non pharmacological treatment options. These encompass diet, exercise, stress management, ergonomics and financial handling. These aspects are YOUR RESPONSIBILITY! Treatment is a shared decision and you need to keep your part of the bargain to derive maximum benifits. Your Rheumatologist is aware of how to help around these problems. Even financial ones! Self care requires understandingyour environment, your partner and relatives. They need to be taken into confidence. These disorders are not your making and hence no need on your part to victimise yourself. Once the rules of the games are set, the ride is easier and enjoyable.
Self care is a broader concept. It cannot be an individual based activity but a co-ordinated efforts of many coming together. Here is where the role of patient support groups like "MAI" become obvious. When you are in vicinity of your fellow brave hearts (not patients) the experience exchange helps in solving most simple day care problems to long term planning ones. The unity also gives you all a legal, political and emotional support. More importantly the bonds of friendships become your lifelines.
My experience in Rheumatology has helped me evolve as a person. Though i am expected to give advice on all aspects of your life(the medical education teaches us this) but the efforts of my brave hearts have inspired me everyday. Happiness is not a state of event but a state of mind! Self care personifies this belief. This year we explore the uncharted territory along with science and experience to our guidance. Wish you Happy Read!