Patient Perspective – Coping this winter

Our patient blogger, Vickie, is back with a new blog. Here, she gives her advice on how to cope with the winter months.

Winter is here. I hate winter. I hate being cold. Cold ears, hands, feet and just cold all over. Standing out in the cold is unbearable. All you want to do is be in the warm – I know that’s what I want to do – with a nice cup of tea on the sofa.

The only good thing about winter is Christmas. I love Christmas, I love everything about it. The music, lights, decorations, presents, the build-up to the big day. Everything about it.

However, we have to be careful what we do and where we go. We meaning us blood cancer patients. From my experience, having had blood cancer for nearly nine years now, I want to share what I do in the winter with you.

I hate being cold, so I wrap up. I wear leather gloves, as I find the cold doesn’t get in them. I wear either a hat or ear muffs for my ears, as they seem to suffer the worst from the cold and do cause me pain. Even wearing a scarf and putting it around my ears, just to keep them warm. I wear my scarf, big thick coat and boots. I even do myself a hot water bottle and take it outside. I cannot be cold. It makes me unwell and tired. Also, taking a cup of tea outside in a travel mug is great as this warms you up as well.

Also, what comes with the winter is bugs and sickness. We have to avoid this, if that’s even possible. So how do we avoid winter viruses? It’s very tricky, but avoiding big crowds is important. As it’s crowded this time of year, it’s hard to see who has the flu or other illness, and it only takes a sneeze for you to catch it. I understand we do have a life and we need to enjoy it, but we also need to look after ourselves.

If I’m in a shop and I do see somebody bunged up sneezing, I move away. I bring a small bottle of antiseptic gel in my bag too, which I use on my hands, but you could also use it on the door handles of toilets, or anywhere. We cannot be 100% germ free, but we can take action in reducing the risk.

If my family or friends are unwell, they know not to visit. Maybe you could suggest the same until they are better. It’s very important not to become ill, especially in the winter. If you do become ill, try to rest at home and get someone to help you. They could go to the shops for you, get your groceries. It’s important to stay at home, keep warm and look after yourself.

Did you know you can also have the flu jab for free as a cancer patient? I would recommend you see your doctor/haematologist for further information and see if you can benefit from this. You have nothing to lose in asking. Always ask if you have any queries, no matter how small you may think it is.

When I am at home, I also keep warm by having the heating on. However, this can become expensive, but I know cancer patients can also get help with bills and keeping warm. There are different schemes and advice. Ask Leukaemia Care and they will point you in the right direction.

I also use a hot water bottle in the home, sitting on the sofa. I use one, sometimes two, in bed. I wear nice warm pyjamas as well and my bed socks. Keeping curtains closed and doors closed keeps the heating in.

On Christmas Day, it becomes busy. I have two young children, so they tire me out half way through the day; opening their presents, putting their batteries in their toys. Then we have our dinner and tidy up, and I’ll then take myself off for an hour or two and have a sleep. Recharge myself. Look after me. Then I spend the rest of the evening with my family.

My advice would be to wrap up really warm, but if it’s freezing don’t go out. Get someone to help you. Seek advice about the flu jab from the doctor. Avoid overcrowded areas, where bugs can be caught.

I hope everyone has a super fantastic Christmas. Have fun, enjoy and remember to look after yourselves.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Information about blood cancer

In this section you will find disease specific information on the main types of blood cancers and allied blood disorders.

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