How Rude! The Inconvenience of Chronic Illness!

May 30, 2024

Living with a chronic illness can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Even when things are stable, there are routine check-ups, procedures, and the constant balancing act to maintain our health. Today, I’m sharing my experience with one such routine inconvenience: a precautionary colonoscopy. Nothing alarming, just a necessary step to stay on top of my health. However, this simple procedure ripples out and disrupts several aspects of my life. Let’s talk about how inconvenient it can be and some practical ways to cope.

The Disruption of Routine Procedures

Taking Time Off Work

First, these procedures mean I need to take a few days off work. For many of us, taking time off isn’t just about missing a day or two of tasks—it can mean falling behind, dealing with the anxiety of catching up, and the stress of wondering if we’re letting others down. It’s not just about the procedure day; there’s prep time and recovery time, which can extend the absence further than we’d like.

Financial Impact

This disruption can have a significant impact on our finances, especially if we're using leave without pay or exhausting our allocated leave days. Additionally, there may be medical bills to consider, depending on our healthcare coverage and government rebates. Managing these financial implications adds another layer of stress to an already tricky situation.

Impact on Energy Levels

A procedure can leave you feeling drained—both literally and figuratively. The preparation often involves fasting or other preparations that can sap your energy. Post-procedure, the anaesthesia or sedatives used can make you feel groggy and out of sorts for a day or two. This energy dip means I have to put my exercise routine on hold. For someone who relies on physical activity to manage stress and maintain health, this is a significant setback.

Nutritional Disruptions

The preparation for a procedure may require a restricted diet, and the recovery period often involves eating bland, gentle foods. This nutritional disruption can leave you feeling unbalanced and deprived. When you’re used to eating in a way that fuels your body well, this sudden change can be frustrating and make you feel less than your best.

Impact on Mental Health

Recurring medical procedures can take a toll on your mental health. The anticipation of the procedure, the discomfort during and after, and the uncertainty of the results can all contribute to increased anxiety and stress. Over time, this can lead to feelings of overwhelm, burnout, or even mental health issues. It’s essential to prioritise your mental wellbeing during these times, whether through therapy, support groups, or self-care practices.

Impact on Loved Ones

Finally, there’s the impact on those around us. My husband, for example, has to step into the role of carer again. This means rearranging his schedule, taking on extra responsibilities, and dealing with the emotional toll of seeing me unwell or in discomfort. It’s a reminder of how chronic illness doesn’t just affect the person with the condition but also their loved ones.

Navigating the impact of recurring medical procedures on various aspects of our lives requires resilience, patience, and support. By acknowledging these challenges and implementing coping strategies, we can navigate these disruptions with greater ease and continue to prioritise our health and wellbeing.

Coping with the Inconvenience

Despite these disruptions, there are ways to manage the inconvenience and minimise its impact:


One of the most important steps in coping with these inconveniences is acceptance. Acknowledging that these disruptions are part of managing a chronic illness and recognising that it's okay to feel inconvenienced by them can be liberating. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means recognising the reality of the situation and finding ways to work through it.

Plan Ahead

Try to schedule procedures during less busy times at work if possible. Inform your employer and colleagues in advance, and delegate tasks to ensure a smoother transition. Preparing work ahead of time can also ease the pressure when you return.

Rest and Recover

Listen to your body and allow yourself the time to rest and recover. I'll admit, I'm notoriously bad at this myself and often find myself pushing too hard. But I'm actively working on being better at it, and I encourage you to do the same. Pushing yourself too soon can prolong recovery and lead to setbacks. It’s okay to take it easy for a few days, even if it means saying no to certain activities or responsibilities.

Adjust Your Nutrition

Plan your meals around the preparation and recovery phases. Stock up on gentle, nutritious foods that will be easy on your stomach but still provide the necessary nutrients. Hydration is also key during this time!

Exercise Adaptations

Remember, in the grand scheme of things, a few days off from your usual exercise routine is not a big deal. So, there's no use beating yourself up over it. Listen to your body and give yourself the grace to adjust as needed. Don’t push through - your health and wellbeing are paramount, and taking breaks when necessary is a vital part of self-care.

Communicate with Loved Ones

Keep open communication with your loved ones about how they can support you. Express your gratitude for their help, and find ways to make the extra burden lighter, such as arranging for additional help if needed.

Mental Health Check

Seeking support from a mental health professional can provide you with coping strategies and a safe space to express your feelings. Additionally, using tools such as mindfulness techniques, journaling, or relaxation exercises can help minimize triggers and manage stress associated with yet another procedure. Taking proactive steps to care for your mental health can make a significant difference in how you navigate these challenges.

Embracing the Ups and Downs

Living with a chronic illness means accepting that there will be inconvenient moments. However, by planning ahead, allowing ourselves to rest, and leaning on our support systems, we can navigate these disruptions with grace. Remember, it’s okay to acknowledge the frustration and the impact it has on our lives and those around us. By doing so, we can better prepare and adapt, ensuring that we continue to adult well, even in the face of inconvenience.


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