Chronic or prolonged illness sucks - whether it's lupus, MS, Alzheimer's, cancer, or a bad car accident. It doesn't matter if it's your personal illness or the illness of someone you love, it just plain changes everything. It's hard to think about "being green" when you're faced with difficult decisions, painful medical procedures and the caustic side effects of medication. But, still, life goes on. Even if your situation is temporary and you expect to eventually get better, you must learn to live within a new reality. So how do you keep plugging along, doing your part for our planet, when you don't feel well, have new restrictions on your lifestyle or decreased mobility? Take heart. You can take care of yourself and save the planet. So sit back, take your meds, read these tips, and feel good about being green - even if you're sick.
Fluorescent Lights Make Me Sick
It's true that compact fluorescent light bulbs can be a problem for many who suffer from chronic autoimmune disorders like lupus or MS. The fear of a disease flare may keep those with autoimmune disorders from changing to CFLs. Likewise, CFLs offer less (or different) light for those who have low vision or vision problems. But just because you can't change ALL the lights in your house to be more energy efficient doesn't mean you shouldn't change any. Change the bulbs that make sense for you. For example, If you have lupus, don't change the lights in your bathroom, where you may stand naked for a extended period while you dress each day. But do change the ones in areas that you don't use frequently, like by your entry way or guest room. Likewise, if you have low vision, don't change the bulbs in your reading lamp, where you need extra light, but do change the bulbs in your dining room or laundry room, where you don't need as much light, and might be able to supplement with task lighting.
Chemo Is Making Me Sweat
If chemotherapy is causing the dreaded hot-flash meltdown, you don't necessarily have to crank the air conditioning or stick your head in the freezer. Buy yourself (or someone you love) a personal cooling system. Try:
- The Chillow-plus, a soft device that slips into your pillow case to disperse heat. $39.95, at BeyondBeds
- The Misty Mate Cool Wave Personal Cooling System, which sends a cooling breeze underneath your shirt. $79.90 at Survivalstore.
PS, this tip works for those going through menopause, too.
I'm Sun Sensitive, I Can't Go Outside
If you're taking medications that make you sun sensitive, never fear, protection is here. There are many types of SPF protective clothing available these days. And not just long sleeve, floor-length MooMoos either. Cute and wearable shirts, pants, hats and even shorts. No one will know you're protecting your skin. Try Coolibar, Solartex or Solumbra. Even Lands End now offers clothing with SPF.
I Can't Recycle, Because I Don't Get Around So Good
Okay, so lack of mobility can be an issue. But many local trash collection services pick up recyclables with regular trash. Or maybe the problem isn't collecting your recyclables, but getting them to the curb or the recycle center. Don't despair. Ask a neighbor or friend to help. Or call your local high school and ask if they have a "Green Club." These clubs are made up of enthusiastic young people who want to help the environment and the community. Let them.
It takes effort to live with and fight a chronic disease. And helping the environment probably seems low on the list. But with a little planning, you can do it. Researchers say feeling good about doing something good is good for you. And having a healthy planet is another reason to keep fighting for another day.
Get in on the discussion. Have a chronic disease? Post your tips in the comments below for coping and keeping it green.