When you want to fix something, whether you’re a master craftsman or a Do-It-Yourselfer, you rely on your tools. What does a person diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma need in their tool box?
If we put together a tool box for patients arriving at a Mesothelioma Center, we would put in some simple things that could make a huge difference in the journey.
We would start with a scale, so you could weigh yourself daily. Something as simple as weight can tell a mesothelioma team if the patient is consuming enough calories, or if they are retaining fluid. When recovering from mesothelioma treatments, it important to weigh yourself at the same time every day. You would be surprised at just how much a fluctuation in weight could tell a healthcare professional. Often, a patient feels short of breath, only to discover their weight increased 2-3 pounds overnight. Shortness of breath often precedes weight gain, but the scale could confirm your fluid retention.
Another item we would include is a pill box. We have all seen them and they can be useful if you are taking more medications than usual and feel overwhelmed. You or a family member can set it up for a week or two, which allows for fewer errors. Patients who use pill boxes often feel more in control and confident about when they are taking their new medications. Some local pharmacies may even help with this task; you will just have to check with your individual store.
We would also add a journal for writing about your feelings and experiences along your journey. This can be a great device to reflect upon where you have been and how you have changed, both physically and mentally. When you have moments of doubt in your treatments, your journal can show you how much progress you have made. Taking care of your mental and physical health during this period is critical. Many people feel anxious or overwhelmed by thoughts that plague them since being diagnosed with mesothelioma. A journal can help act as an outlet for these worries and fears, and it can be therapeutic for many people with malignant mesothelioma to let go of some of these feelings. A journal can track how much you exercise. It is good to walk outside for 20 minutes, go to physical therapy, participate in a meditation course, or clean your house for an hour. Physical activity can make a world of difference in helping us feel strong and in control.
If there was only one more thing we could include, it would be a water bottle to measure the amount of fluids that you drink. When coping with mesothelioma, many people lose their desire to drink fluids. Measuring your intake can keep you on track about staying hydrated. Regularly drinking fluids can help you fight off dehydration and dizziness, avoid drops in blood pressure, and help you feel better overall. Using a bottle with simple markings can help you stay on your game and keep yourself well hydrated.
None of these tools have to be elaborate or high-grade medical equipment; in fact, most are already somewhere in our houses. The core idea of your tool box is to help you have equipment at your disposal to make life easier.