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Talking About Your Health Over The Holidays

Laura Cox
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
12/08/15  4:12 PM PST
talking about your health

I love the holidays because it means that you get to gather with family and friends you don’t see very often. Over Thanksgiving I traveled from California to Kansas to meet up with my mom’s side of the family. Since my diagnosis in 2010, they’ve seen me at my worst, at my best, and all of my points in between.

I am very open about my Ulcerative Colitis, ostomy, struggles, triumphs and general story because I believe in order to advocate for awareness you need to be able to emotionally reach people. The best way I know how to do that is to be completely transparent about my journey. That being said, at our Thanksgiving gathering, for the first time in five years I felt uncomfortable about how much I was asked about my illness. Of course, I am touched and very thankful to have a family that cares so deeply about every part of my life, but I had just been at the Cleveland Clinic and needed a break from my health being my primary thought.

The holiday season is wonderful because you get to spend time with loved ones, but how do you navigate discussing your health? This answer depends on what you want of your holiday gathering.

If you don’t want to discuss your health at all:

When asked about your health, the best way to answer is by giving a quick, honest answer to the question, succinctly explaining politely that you don’t want to focus on your health, and change the subject. An example of a polite, honest answer would be “My health is good/not so great, thank you for asking. Celebrating the holidays is a great distraction from my everyday health struggles, and I’m happy to be enjoying this time with my loved ones! How have you been?”

If you want to quickly fill your loved ones in with general details:

When asked about your health, I think the best way to quickly fill your loved ones in is to pick a couple of the most important details to share. Give a brief synopsis, and then move to a different topic. I find that sometimes when I try to give a quick overviewand don’t move on to a different topic right away, my loved ones will ask questions and we end up getting stuck on the topic.

If you want support from your loved ones during a difficult time:

When asked about your health by a loved one, honestly reply with how you’ve been doing and what you’ve been struggling with. Answer any questions that come up. If you need support from your loved ones, ask for specific support that will help reduce your stress level, like help with cooking, making doctors’ appointments, driving from one place to another, etc.

 

In short, you are in control of how much or how little you speak about your health during the holidays; the holidays are a perfect time to ask for support if you need it, be distracted if you want a break from thinking about your health, and spend quality time with the people you love

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My 89-year-old mother loves to swim but she has found that the pouch fills with water when she gets into the pool. What can we do to fix this?
Cathy
We recently had someone reach out to our Facebook community with a similar question, and several of our OstomyLife community members responded with their own advice.
 
Hopefully you and your mother will find their answers helpful ...


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