What an ideal world it would be if there were no chronic illness! No need for blood tests and hospitalizations, no need for surgery or sometimes painful diagnostic tests? I don’t think that will happen in our lifetime, but we can never give up hope that some day…
Some illnesses can’t be prevented including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, some genetic diseases and certain forms of cancer, though research is underway to try to find a cure or even prevent them. They’re chronic. Treating these and other chronic diseases represents @ 75% of our healthcare costs.
Feelings surround unnecessary suffering from chronic illness. I”d imagine that some of you have felt the terror of chest pains from coronary artery disease, the loss of freedom that can accompany limitations placed on your eating habits by diabetes. Another feeling might be the heartbreak of a stoke, dialysis from kidney failure or the chronic pain from fibromyalgia.
Another feeling is that of isolation. Consider unnecessary feelings of isolation if an obese person feels ashamed of his/her weight and doesn’t want to go out or is physically unable to stand, walk or participate in so much that life has to offer because of shortness of breath.
There’s also feeling different from others; even if you did nothing to ‘bring on’ your illness. Think of the teenager with epilepsy who wants so desperately to drive like all his friends do, to be like all of his/her friends; but, has a seizure in the middle of a slumber party. What timing! this is right at the developmental stage the time when you want to feel like your peers, you feel so much different from them and depended on others.
In addition to social problems is the huge financial cost. Missed work time can cost one a job and this directly affects family finances which can be decimated; especially if the need arises to hire a caregiver. Approximately half of our bankruptcy filings are for medical reasons.
These human, financial and emotional costs are largly preventable. The importance of diet and exercise must become part of what our children are taught at an early age and more important, children and adults at risk need to learn the reasons what they can and should do to prevent problems in the future.