Disease Management During COVID-19: From IBS Patient and Advocate, Andrew Donovan

Written by Andrew Donovan

Managing life during this COVID-19 pandemic is quite different than it was just a few short weeks ago.

Many of us have experienced social isolation, shelter in place, or stay at home orders. Others may have experienced postponement or cancellation of scheduled procedures or appointments as healthcare organizations work to increase their capacity to care for patients in the event of a COVID-19 surge. For those living with the daily impact of a chronic disease or condition, life can’t simply be put on hold until things return to some state of normalcy.  

With that in mind, below are some ideas to keep those of us with chronic conditions well established on the path of health and well-being.

Keep in contact with your healthcare team:

The federal government has relaxed regulations established around the use of Telehealth, so connecting virtually with your healthcare team is as easy as ever. Check in with you provider’s office to see what offerings they have to connect with you virtually in order to maintain your symptoms and management regimen to ensure that you stay healthy and on the right path. Conversely, if your symptoms aren’t under control, don’t wait until this pandemic is over. Be proactive to avoid having to experience time in the hospital. Healthcare organizations recognize that chronic illness doesn’t stop.

Maintain contact with your support system:

Dealing with a chronic illness can be isolating on a good day, let alone when faced with a global pandemic. Much like keeping in contact with your healthcare team, ensure that you keep in contact with those within your support system. Whether that’s sharing a virtual coffee date by video or over the phone, or writing the old fashion way using pen and paper, getting your worries or concerns out will go a long way to maintain a level of strong mental health. 

Take up a new hobby or renew an old interest:

Life usually flies by much faster than most of us would like as it’s filled with to do lists, school and practice schedules for kids, and due dates galore. During these times where things have slowed down, consider taking up a new hobby like knitting or baking. Read through the book series you’ve been wanting to get to. Try your hand at painting or drawing as a therapeutic mode of entertainment. There are a variety of paid and free online tutorials that can be used to learn a new hobby or provide inspiration for old ones that may have been put to the side due to many competing priorities. 

Visit the NICA COVID-19 Resource and Guidance Toolkit for more information on keeping infusion patients safe and more. 

Chronic illness is hard under normal circumstances, but it is exacerbated during times such as these that are filled with such uncertainty. Remember to keep your health at the forefront and consider participating in activities that may have a positive effect on not only your physical health but your mental health as well. Stay safe, stay well and keep charging ahead in your daily fight with whatever chronic illness you may be experiencing. 

Andrew Donovan is an advocate, Crohn’s patient, nurse, and father to triplets. He is an Infection Preventionist at St. Joseph Healthcare in Bangor, Maine and holds a certification in Infection Control from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC). Andrew is also the expert lead moderator for the Crohn’s and Colitis patient group in the Infusion Confusion Community.

3 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Kaitey Morgan 2 weeks ago

    I love your reminder for those with chronic illnesses to speak up if their symptoms are problematic. There is so much emphasis on “Stay Safe, Stay Home” that I worry someone experiencing a flare will tough it out at home rather than call their specialist. Great piece, Andrew!

  2. Avatar Author
    cristina.threlkeld 2 weeks ago

    Really appreciated this article, Andrew! As someone with chronic pain, staying home and isolated has been both nice and restful, but also quite a bit isolating. It is comforting to hear your tips and I will definitely be implementing some of these into my daily routine while at home to make sure that I stay healthy and safe!

  3. Avatar
    Shelia Morley 6 days ago

    Julie, congratulations! You are so right about the best way to open the door on these bad actors, the local and state MEDIA. I have been working with our State Legislators regarding a bill to put the PBM ers in their place. The Virus has slowed the process, but we are not giving up. Next, we are starting the local publicity TV stations and radio. I will be getting in touch with other local GI docs, as well. Last week one of our patients that we have had since she was 15 years old was told that she can not get her infusion at our infusion center. They have a contract with a “Stan Alone” Infusion Center. This is Wonderful Blue Cross Blue Shield. We are fighting this.
    We do not have much time because her infusion is due. PLEASE EVERYONE THIS IS VERY WRONG FOR OUR PATIENTS!

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