Caring for a patient with any chronic illness may be challenging and can sometimes become a full-time job depending on the severity of the patient’s symptoms. Relationships and families can be put under strain without effective communication between patients and carers.
Here are a few areas that I have noticed need attention for a smoother recovery of the patient and to be fair to the carer.
Patients may have good days and then bad days – Some of the most common comments I hear from carers are phrases such as “They were doing so well, and then they suddenly went down hill for no reason” or “One day they were great, saying they felt well and the next day they were complaining they were feeling sick again”.
This scenario happens frequently and is often very confusing and frustrating for all involved, especially when a patient is expressing they feel much better and then the next day they crash. This is normal and can be due to a number of things:
1. The patient may have taken a new herb or medication and they may get a temporary lift or burst of energy as the cells accept the new boost, but then the body will adjust back to the chronic fatigued state shortly afterwards. This does not mean the medicine is not working but more the opposite that they may need to continue for a longer period or have pulsed treatments.
2. The patient may have been OK but then an adjustment to herbs or medications may have caused a temporary Herxheimer reaction which will make the patient feel temporarily worse and exacerbate any symptoms.
3. The patient may have taken advantage of a new burst of energy and over done activities such as walking, mowing or socializing and therefore pushed the already depleted adrenals.
4. Bacteria and parasites will have significant patterns of proliferation and reproduction and these cycles can affect symptoms. This is why it is good to encourage the patient to keep an accurate symptom diary to show their practitioner.
5. The patient may have simply had a reaction to food, chemicals, toxins, mould exposure or even from the change in temperature or weather.
6. A patient’s increased energy can be great, but may only be a 5-10% charge. Due to the level of adrenal fatigue, the body is unable to fully recharge itself and is easily depleted when it tries.
7. The chronic Lyme patient may experience symptoms such as ‘brain fog’, temporary memory loss and many emotions of overwhelm, anxiety, frustration and depression. These are all expected due to the effects the bacteria have on the gut and the brain. These can be helped with adequate nutritious food, herbal medicine, and appropriate nutritional supplementation to support the gut, immune system and brain function.
Food and diet
As mentioned in the diet section of my NEW book – Lyme Natural (to be published very soon :), the patient’s diet must be as wholesome and as organic as possible.
It is best to prepare meals from scratch as opposed to buying pre-made processed food. Of course, this may not always be possible, however, minimizing the amount of toxins a patient consumes decreases the load on their digestive, liver and immune systems and increases the chance they have of a successful recovery. The bodies energy that would otherwise be spent dealing with food toxins can now be put to the task of healing the body – boosted by the influx of good quality organic produce. The foods that most negatively affect chronic patients are processed foods with colours, preservatives and artificial sweeteners, gluten containing foods, dairy, alcohol, and sugar.
Avoid toxins and perfumes
Patients may complain of symptoms suddenly becoming worse due to smells around them such as perfumes, hair products, cleaning products, chlorine in pools, air fresheners, weed killers, cigarette smoke, mould and even the smell of fabric conditioners on clothes.
This is a genuine multi-chemical sensitivity (MCS) and may make the patient feel dizzy, nauseous, anxious or bring on sudden fatigue. Symptoms such as these can be confusing since anyone else around may not feel as the patient does so the patient often gets blamed for ‘over-reacting’, being difficult, awkward or imagining smells.
Chronic Lyme and stealth infected patients are a lot more sensitive to toxic smells and may react instantly when exposed.
This can be challenging to deal with in every day life, but changing habits to use unscented, cleaner natural and environmentally friendly products may help and will also be more beneficial to all those around.
Caring for self
Self care is absolutely vital and putting your self first is some times needed in order to help the needs of others.
This means, as a carer you must eat healthy foods, rest well and have a balanced life of exercise, social activities and personal rest time to recharge. It is important to be prepared and as organized as possible and seek the right support and ensure time for self. If your own needs are met, then you will be better able to help support the needs of those you care for too.
is highly recommended when caring for a partner or family member to ensure healthy communication of your needs and feelings. For specialized counselling, in-clinic, Skype and phone consultations are offered at www.noosaholistichealth.com with one of our professional counsellors or psychologists.
There will be ups and downs, but with the right help and support the ‘up’ days will increase and the odd normal ‘down’ days will be a lot easier to deal with 🙂
© Amina Eastham-Hillier 2017