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The curse of tinsel-blindness : chronic illness at Christmas

Christmas is a time to cast aside the everyday and embrace the magic of it all. But what if your everyday routines are essential to controlling your health?

Rarely does the whole of the UK move with such unified purposefulness as at Christmas. Through the year, significant dates, birthdays, deadlines come and go for each of us. But December – from the tree going up, to the presents being wrapped, to the turkey going in the oven, to the monumental clean-up which follows- is a race in which the whole nation charges together.

Unfortunately, chronic illnesses don’t seem to observe the holiday season. As festive as a chronically-ill person might feel, the month-long effort of creating the perfect Christmas may simply not be possible. For women and men with lupus, fibromyalgia, MS, depression or diabetes, Christmas time is business as usual. To have a healthy and happy Christmas, they must continue to wage battle with their illnesses – to take the right medication; to make considered choices about the foods they eat; and perhaps most importantly, to rest as often and as long as they need to, even when the world around them is none-stop-go.

So many chronic illnesses are invisible; symptoms are often internal rather than external, and suffers can become experts at putting on a brave face and carrying on regardless. In this season, it is worth remembering that happiness and healthiness are not always one and the same thing; merriness is infectious, and if someone who is chronically ill enjoys themselves at Christmas, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they feel well, or have endless reserves of energy to draw from.

In the dazzling glare of fairy-lights and tinsel, an invisible illness can become even harder to see. So during this festive season, remember to be kind to yourself, and considerate of those around you who might just look more hearty than they really feel.

If you are in good health, and would like to help people with chronic illness, why not consider participating in a clinical trial with Covance? In 2015, we will have studies for many new treatments for chronic and invisible illnesses, and we often need women who are surgically sterile or post-menopausal to take part. You can take a look at our upcoming trials here: UK Clinical Trials

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Linda Parkinson-Hardman

Transformational coach and founder of the Hysterectomy Association. Professionally I'm an information scientist who specialises in the adoption and engagement of digital technologies. I am a writer and author of nine books to date, and I've edited a further seven; phew what a lot for a Thursday afternoon :-)

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