Nothing quite prepares you for the day your physician breaks the news to you — you have a chronic gastrointestinal disorder. You’ve probably experienced injury or illness at least once, but it’s nothing compared to wrapping your head around the fact that you’ll have to completely adjust your life, to even have a life.
Getting delivered a big dose of diagnosis can feel like a bad dream, but you have the choice to wake up and make a change. You can let the chronic disease take the best of you, or learn about what to expect and how to best prepare yourself for the emotional and financial burden of your new condition.
The initial shock of a chronic illness can feel like a roller coaster ride of emotions. Digesting the news of a digestive disorder can bring on guilt, shame, and grief. You may go through a range of stages: denial, anger, sadness, and bargaining.
Easy does it
Before you get to planning and preparing, take a pause. Be gentle with yourself and know that you will adapt over time. You’ll feel like yourself once you learn how to adjust your illness into you life. Give yourself time to learn how to take care of yourself. Learn the power of acceptance.
Stress can make it harder to take care of a chronic illness as well as blunting your body’s ability to heal. So as we move into the financial burden, take it with a grain of salt. You’re learning more about your illness so you can manage it and feel better about it all.
Burden of IBD
Michael Osso, President & CEO of the Crohn’s’s & Colitis Foundation confirmed in Yahoo!Finance, that having Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) puts an enormous financial burden on patients and their families.
A new study from the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases journal analyzed information from over 50,000 IBD patients over a 10-year period with the goal to describe the annual direct and indirect costs of care for IBD patients, describe the drivers of cost after the diagnosis, and characterize the costs for newly diagnosed patients.
The study revealed that the cost of care for IBD patients in the U.S. has significantly increased over the past five years. Results also indicated:
- IBD patients annual costs are three-times higher than non-IBD patients
- IBD patients take on more than twice the out-of-pocket costs than non-IBD patients
- Annual costs of IBD were substantially higher in the year of the initial diagnosis
Invest in yourself
When you invest time and energy in yourself, you help decrease the financial burden of your condition. It will pay off handsome dividends — ranging from feeling better, to saving dollars, to living longer.
- Manage medications: trying to remember what pill to take and when is difficult. Plan ahead by putting pills in a pill box. Don’t be afraid to ask your physician or pharmacist why you take them. In some cases your physician may be able to offer a less expensive version.
- Lean into family support: friends and family are there for you (and free!). Things like cutting back on processed foods or increasing exercise can prevent flare-ups and help your conditions improve. Enlist your loved ones in a healthier lifestyle. Doing meal prep and activities together can save on costs.
- Prioritize health: part of your treatment involves lifestyle changes. You know what to do — maybe it’s time to give up that food that’s been making you sick, or start walking to help your digestion, Can you stop or limit smoking or drinking? Every shift pays off both in terms of health and money. Invest in your “wellness piggy bank”.
- Seek support: doctors don’t have all the answers, all the time, so it’s helpful to build your team of experts. A nurse may be a better resource for helping you quit smoking, for instance. A dietitian may be a better resource for diet planning. And a credible AI-chatbot like Nori may be the best for all those times in between.
Nori is an AI-driven chabot coach for people living with a chronic disease. Nori will help you understand what it’s like to live with a chronic bowel disease and learn how to discover and change lifestyle factors that impact how well you feel. She’ll help you understand and change lifestyle behaviors to decrease symptoms and improve overall quality of life. This is all done safely and confidentially. The more people that talk with Nori, the smarter she becomes. The whole community benefits.