Mar 21, 2012 0 Share

Dealing with Illness

Young man blowing nose holding thermometer and hot water bottle.

I know that for most people my age, dealing with illnesses like the common cold is a simple thing to do. However, I find it difficult to take care of myself when I am ill because even though I realize that there are symptoms to illnesses like the simple cold, I have a hard time recognizing them when they affect me personally. To me, colds generally come on suddenly without much warning. I have always had my parents to help me with any illnesses or injuries that have befallen me, but as I have gotten older, my parents have begun helping me to understand what I need to do as an adult regarding my own well-being and any health issues that come my way.

This issue came up last week when I came down with a cold. I spent much of the past week recuperating from this cold while attempting to maintain my regular school schedule. It gave me a chance to not only think about how such unexpected illnesses can negatively affect my daily routine—which really throws me off because I like my schedule to be consistent—but it also has opened my eyes to the fact that I really need to focus on what I need to do when I am ill. 

The day I came down with my cold, my mother was the first to notice that I was becoming ill and discussed this with me. I did not recognize the symptoms of the cold because I tend to sneeze a few times every day, and I thought it was going to be just another day of only a few sneezes and nothing more. I also did not connect my sore, scratchy throat along with a developing cough to a cold coming on. As the day wore on, however, my cough started sounding worse and worse and because of my asthma, I struggled to breathe at times.

This pattern continued for most of the next day, with my mother giving me asthma treatments to help me breathe. I use a nebulizer machine to dispense my asthma medications, which my mother helps me set up and run. She also tried giving me a throat lozenge for my sore throat, but because the flavor was so overwhelming to me, I could not handle it. She also decided it was time to take me to the doctor. It was my mom that made the appointment and got me there. I did not make the appointment myself because I do not have the proper phone skills yet to effectively do so. My mother has given me a script in the past to practice calling 911, and she has told me that she will help me to come up with a template for making doctor’s appointments on my own. The doctor did prescribe some medicine for me, but I was wondering when relief would come.

As my cold continued, I realized that I would not be able to go to my favorite extracurricular functions including basketball and piano lessons. I also really wanted to go to a bookstore with one of my aunts; this trip had been part of my plans for a number of weeks, but due to my cold, I could not go. This was especially disappointing for me because I had been there before with my father, and there were several items there that I wanted to look at further. I do not like having disruptions in my schedule or plans, but I did have to accept the fact that I would have to wait until I was well before I could resume them again.

In the past few days, my cold has almost completely disappeared. I think I handled the changes in my schedule and plans fairly well. It does make me anxious, but I calmed myself down with the knowledge that my cold would soon end, and then I could get back to my regular routine again. After discussing my cold with my mother, I also realize that I need to work on recognizing the signs of illness, if I plan on living on my own. I did not notice my symptoms this time, but I am sure I will be able to recognize them in the future. I also plan on learning how to administer my own asthma treatments for when these symptoms do appear before they get worse. In the past, my mother has prepared different sets of instructions for other tasks that I have learned and mastered such as doing my own laundry and cleaning the bathroom and kitchen areas. She laminated them and used Velcro to strategically place them throughout the house on walls and doors. She plans on putting together a set of instructions for running the nebulizer as well as many other tasks I have as yet to learn and compile them in an easy-to-use reference book for me. I will also need to be aware of what medications I will need to take when I am ill, and know when to take them. 

I can see that I will have to be more responsible for myself in this area as I work toward being an independent adult. My focus right now is on my college work, but I realize I will need to look beyond my parents and prepare for these things in the future. For now, I try to learn as much as I can from my experiences as they come up. In addition, having step-by-step instructions in place will greatly help me learn many life skills. I know this will take time, but with my parents’ help and a good plan, I know I can succeed.