Living with Crohn's is filled with twists and turns, and starting down a new path can be daunting—unless you have a good map. Thankfully, Dr. Ann Bregman is here with the 8 C's to help manage Crohn's in times of change.
Ann Bregman is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been living with Crohn's since 2006. She is committed to helping people who suffer from depression, especially those living with a chronic illness like Crohn's disease.
Proceed with care
Don’t expect every transition with Crohn’s to be difficult, but approach life’s changes with eyes wide open. Take the change slowly. Go step by step. Prepare.
Communicate with your healthcare team
Talk to your healthcare providers about the change you're about to make. An ongoing dialogue with your physician, nurses, and healthcare team can help you think though what you need to do, identify local Crohn's resources, and arrange for consistent, convenient blood monitoring. (Read more about talking with your doctor about Crohn's in the Winter 2010 issue of Crohn'sAdvocate magazine.)
Cultivate a support system
Nothing can help smooth transitions better than a supportive team. Family, health professionals and good, open relationships with friends are enormously important. The better informed people are about Crohn’s disease, the better equipped they are to be supportive of a friend or loved one in transition. Don‘t be afraid to ask for help; we all need it from time to time.
Check in with yourself
Be aware of your body and your mental state during important life events. Closely track your Crohn’s symptoms during times of transition.
Using a symptom tracker is a convenient way to keep records of symptoms and things that influence your health. You'll be able to see how these things change over time and to share that information easily with a doctor or nurse, all of which is especially important in times of change.
Capitalize on available resources
Reach out to disability resources, which may be able to help ease a transition. Many colleges allow students living with Crohn’s and other medical needs to reserve private dorm rooms, or rooms with private bathrooms. Human resources departments at work also can offer assistance programs or other types of help.
Conduct proactive reconnaissance of any new environment
Find out as much as you can about the new school, job, family or environment. The more you know about a place, the better prepared you can be. Don't be afraid to call ahead and ask.
Make a list of the most important aspects of your Crohn's routine–food, bathrooms, timing, medication–and then learn about each. For example, when traveling, think about whether one 5-hour flight might be easier if broken into two 2.5–hour flights. Would a desk closer to the bathroom save you wear and tear at work?
Try to keep some semblance of routine during transitions. Be consistent with your Crohn's treatments and other regimens, stick to your regular diet, exercise and stay active, and get enough sleep.
Keep a can-do attitude
Many people living with Crohn’s feel limited by their condition. But try to keep a positive outlook and build off past successes to help get through major life changes. (Read more about coping with Crohn's in the Fall 2010 issue of Crohn’sAdvocate magazine.)