Here’s a little fun fact about me: Christmas is my second favorite time of year after August, which I like because it’s one of the hottest months here in the U.K. It’s also my birthday month, and the month that Notting Hill Carnival is held. With this festive period in mind, I wanted to share some top tips to help sickle cell patients stay well over the holiday season.
Try to reduce stress
If like me, you are responsible for cooking the Christmas meal for the family, you’ll know it can be quite an onerous task. In my previous column about the triggers of a sickle cell crisis, you’ll notice I highlighted stress as a key trigger. Therefore, when navigating a period that is inevitably stressful, my advice is to try to preplan as much as you can.
I started preparing my Christmas food shopping online, because I can’t go to the supermarkets, at the end of November. I also make sure I do as much food prep as possible on Christmas Eve to minimize the stress on the actual day.
Whether your Christmas stress is caused by cooking the food, organizing the gifts, or being responsible for family entertainment, try your best to spread the responsibilities over as many days as possible. This should help alleviate stress. Avoid leaving everything to the last minute at all costs.
Make sure to eat properly
I find I have great difficulty structuring my days and my meals when I am not working. As such, during the holiday season, I find it can be so easy to skip meals, albeit unintentionally. But not eating properly can increase lethargy and subsequently lead to a sickle cell crisis.
Try to plan your meals in advance, ensuring that you have a minimum of three square meals a day during the holiday season. Make an extra effort to do this if you are not working and waking up later than usual.
Take your medications
Along with unstructured days and missed meals, one also can easily become lackadaisical with a medication regimen. But you must resist this at all costs. Do not believe that missing one day is not a problem. Prioritize taking your medication.
Check out my medication regimen to understand why compliance is vital for sickle cell patients.
I always eat when I wake up and take my medication at the start of the day, with my first meal. This helps me remember to take it.
Drink plenty of water
I don’t drink alcohol, but I know many people do, particularly around this time of year. There is nothing wrong with a drink here and there, but I would advise sickle cell patients to ensure they are topped up with water at all times. I have participated in many speaking engagements with other sickle cell patients who shared their experiences with crises caused by high levels of alcohol consumption.
Take time to rest
With Christmas cheer all around, it can be hard to avoid the hustle and bustle this time of year brings. I also think the pressure has been exacerbated this year due to the pandemic, which has limited our opportunities to see friends and family. It might be tempting to use this festive period to catch up with as many loved ones as possible, but try not to do too much, too soon. Make sure you take time out this period to rest.
2020 has been a difficult year for most of us, so it’s important we take time out to rest, recuperate, and rejuvenate.
Getting medical assistance
If you do fall ill this holiday season, don’t put off seeking medical assistance or going to the hospital. I once spent Christmas in the hospital, so I understand that it sucks. But if it is necessary, it is important that you go so that you are safe and well. Do not delay medical assistance if you are unwell.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay safe, stay well, and stay strong, and I’ll see you in 2021!
Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.
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