Medical emergencies, disease diagnosis, and chronic health conditions can take a toll on your health, both physically and mentally. All too often, after the health issue is dealt with, there is an even more difficult period of follow-up care and medication needed to maintain your recovered health. This follow-up care can last for months, years or indefinitely in an attempt to prevent recurrence or further deterioration of your medical condition.

For many patients, the period of treatment after the initial issue has been dealt with can be the most challenging as they must learn to cope with a new reality and deal with medications and therapies that were never part of their previous lives. Taking the right approach to follow-up care is every bit as important to your continuing recovery as the initial treatments. There are ways to get the most from your follow-up care.

  1. Keep the lines of communication open with your health care professionals. If you’re in pain, let them know. If medication is making you sick or causing you to lose sleep at night, talk about it, don’t suffer in silence. Often, there are ways to ease your discomfort and make your follow-up treatments, if not pleasant, at least tolerable.
  2. Try to do what you’re told to do. Take your medication as directed. If you require physical therapy, maintain your recommended schedule. If you don’t start out following the doctor’s orders, you will never know if your lack of improvement is due to your ailment or to your inability to follow directions.
  3. Don’t let your medical issues define your life. You were a full, well-rounded person before this diagnosis and you are still one now. Return to your regular lifestyle as soon as possible. Pursue your career, maintain your interest in family relationships and keep up with your outside hobbies and interests. Unless you’re physically unable to return to your previous activity levels, work your way back to your level of normal.
  4. Use this time to develop a new interest. Keep your life in forward motion as you prepare yourself mentally to take on new challenges. Don’t stay stuck in a rut just because a medical issue has sidelined you. Expand your life rather than restrict it.
  5. Make friends with someone who is dealing with the same issue as you. Allies who understand your concerns and fears can go a long way to build you up as you take your journey to being as healthy as possible.
  6. Take control over your own life. Of course, you want to trust your medical professionals to do what’s right for you. Still, you will find empowerment in researching and learning what you can about your treatment and the advances that are being made in the field. It’s always good to know that you are part of the road to a healthier society in the future.

Medical issues can be debilitating as you face a new reality of dealing with life as you used to know it and life as you will deal with it in the future. Often, follow-up care can seem to interfere with your life or can seem unnecessary as you start to return to your previous feeling of well-being. Getting the greatest benefit from your follow-up care requires a commitment to your health and a desire to make the most of your time, both with your medical concerns and with your normal life.