Convalescence - The recovery Period After Illness

Much as we would like to wish our illnesses away, the fact remains that we are, at some time or other, sure to be bothered by some ailment or other. Some of us may fall ill less often than others, but everyone has his or her share of illness all the time.

woman sick in bed

What is convalescence period?

Here we are not going to talk about the "sick" part of our illness. What we are discussing here is the part where we are technically cured, but practically unable to move about in our normal way, and follow our usual routine. That is the convalescence or the recovery period when we have to perforce lie in bed on the doctor's advice, or at least, take things easy.

There are many such occasions in our lives, eg. after a delivery,  an operation or a major disease, like typhoid, jaundice, a severe bout of flu / swine flu or mosquito borne diseases like dengue, malaria and chikungunya. Sometimes it could also be due to a severe injury after an accident or even due to a fractured leg after a fall. All these sap us of our strength and energy. Once the worst is over, we tend to get impatient about settling back to life as it was before this unhappy episode; and sitting around in bed is the last thing we want.

But the fact is that though our mind may be all set to "go for it", our body signals something different. It's most irritating to find that though we are all set to reactivate ourselves, our body simply refuses to comply with our orders when we force it to do our bidding. In fact, some ailments like jaundice get aggravated if e do not take rest sufficiently afterwards. This can lead to a relapse which could be even more serious and damaging than the first attack.

Resting is most important

So, like it or not, rest we must. If it is unavoidable, we might as well make the most of it, and enjoy it.
The first thing to remember is that convalescence is a period of rest and not for fun and games. This phase is as important for your complete cure as the actual treatment which may have preceded it. So be sure to get enough sleep and see that too many visitors do not tire you out. Visitors are welcome, and help you to while away the long boring hours in bed. But it must also be kept in mind that you are not at full throttle in your present state, and too much talking or sitting could tire you out unnecessarily. So make it clear to your guests that though you are now out of the critical phase, this is no less important a stage in your journey to well-being.

You must get sufficient rest if you are to recoup fully. Else it could only be a short-lived affair, with chances of suffering a relapse or getting into some new complications. In case you are hesitant about saying this directly to your friends and guests, ask a member of the family or a close relative to subtly let your well-wishers know about this.

Balanced Diet

Another very important aspect of convalescing is the diet. You must be more than careful about what you eat and how much you eat. Also, you must consult your doctor about any vitamins or extra medication which may be required by you. Your diet should be balanced and nourishing to enable you to get on your feet soon. If you do not eat sufficiently and take proper items at proper time, you may create more problems for yourself. Every illness saps you of something and it is up to you to replace the loss by consuming correct amounts of suitable foods at right times. One doesn't feel like eating during this period, but a certain amount of nourishment is also essential.

fruits and vegetables
Eat more of fruits and veggies.

Make sure you have plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. You should avoid rich, heavy foods which could cause indigestion. Since you are not very mobile, it would be desirable to restrict yourself to a light diet with more of vegetarian food. The non-vegetarian food may be limited to soups or boiled and stewed dishes.

Instead of going in for sweets, confectionery, mithai or chocolates, opt for fruits and homemade fruit /vegetable juices. (Read Herbal drinks for minor ailments) Also, avoid eating too late at night, as this may case you discomfort. You must remember that your body is not at its usual efficient self. What you could take and digest some weeks ago, may not be tolerated by the body. The golden rule is to include a balance between proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Moral Support

If you are a mother and have small children at home, it would be advisable to ask someone to come and help out. If this is not possible, your spouse should be made to realise that just because you are out of the critical phase, it does not mean that you are up and about or can take on the housework.

The children should also be explained that mummy is not well and that they should try to do as much of their own little jobs as they can, and that they should also help in doing small chores. It is essential to have a warm, supportive and loving family at such times more than ever, because this is one time when you need their moral support urgently.

Moments of sickness are very trying for both the patient and the immediate family. The family is not used to seeing the lady of the house immobilized. The patient herself is prone to depression at such times. Sickness can make her feel dejected, unwanted and useless. It is for the family to to cheer her up and make her feel loved and wanted, important and totally essential to the efficient functioning of the house, even when she's in bed. Great understanding of all the near and dear ones is required because these are moments when the patient often feels humiliated and, as a consequence, is driven to desperate acts.

Making the most of convalescence

Periods of convalescence are good opportunities to catch up on your reading, writing and similar light occupations. It would help if you had a pack of cards so that you could play solitaire by yourself, and not need anyone else to give you a company. Board games like scrabble or chess are god a such times. The radio or the audio player could become your best friend as it does not strain the yes or mind. Other pleasant diversions could be TV and DVD player.

woman writing
Catch up on your writing or reading when recuperating from an illness.

But you must remember that you are not at your peak physically, and so do not strain yourself by too much reading, TV or film viewing, as these may cause headaches, if indulged in excess. And it's better to restrict or better avoid the use of smartphones when you are sick or in your convalescent period. Drawing sketching or knitting a simple pattern is alright, but sewing is not advised as it tends to put a strain on the eyes. What you need is something light which would serve as a pleasant and un-taxing diversion. You don't want something which tires you out or works you up and agitates your mind, thus defeating the basic aim of getting rest.
Your bed or easy chair should be in as comfortable a position as possible. Select a place which is airy and well-lit and reasonably peaceful. At the same time, you may want a place from where you can keep an eye on the house or the kitchen. It should be a place from where you need not be asked to move every now and then.

Pep up and look your best

If you are feeling particularly down, perk your spirits by wearing something pretty and cheerful, or ask your family to get you some bright gowns. You may also like to have some fresh flowers in your room. Make sure to try and look your best, even in illness - in fact, more so now. Just because you are convalescing doesn't mean you should look morose and ignore your hygiene and grooming.

woman applying lipstick
Groom yourself when you are convalescing to feel good.
Keep yourself bathed or sponged and fresh, liberally applying some fragrant talcum powder hair neatly done up. Wear comfortable but attractive clothes. Brighten up your appearance by dabbing on a bit of lipstick. However avoid application of talcum powder on your groins or near your private parts as it can increase your risk of ovarian cancer. Read all about it in Talcum powder dangerous for women? A touch of perfume would also make you feel good. This is the time you can finally concentrate on your hands, your feet, your eyebrows and so on. you may actually find this a blessing in disguise, and emerge fresher and better groomed, after all!

The length of your convalescence period

How long the convalescence period should extend, let your doctor or your own body be the infallible guides. Your doctor will, of course, give you broad outlines,  and your body will do the rest. But don't try to force your body to be briskly up and about unless it send you the right signals. No normal person likes to loll around in bed, getting bored and feeling trapped. The most important point is not to rush things, since you may well end up with a severe relapse or unwanted complications. Instead, try to keep your spirits up with pleasant thought and actions.

Steer clear of depression

Don't allow negative thoughts to disturb your peace of mind, because physical well-being depends a lot on your mental frame. If you are disturbed or upset or depressed, you will take longer to recoup. Do not allow people to talk of fatality or the like in front of you. Avoid brooding because it will certainly put you into an unhappy frame of mind. If despite your best efforts, depression seems to be getting the better of you, don't hesitate to discuss it with your spouse or a good, reliable friend, or even a doctor or a therapist. Do read Depression - Recognize and tackle it

woman feeling happy
Steer clear of negative thoughts and try to be happy when you are recuperating.
Remember, convalescence is not a period to be taken lightly. It could mean the difference between happiness and misery. If you take proper care of yourself during this period, it would mean early recovery; otherwise it may again force you to go through the grueling period of suffering.
(Contributed by Beena K)

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  1. While you are recovering from illness, your body is working extra hard to repair and rebuild itself. Any type of illness can cause a loss of appetite, leading to depleted nutrients and weight loss. Choosing foods that give you the right nutrients and building blocks for healing is key to returning to good health. Adding certain nutrients in your daily balanced diet can help speed up your recovery and prevent some types of side effects.

  2. Shriya2:42 PM

    All your cells, tissues and organs are made from amino acids, the building blocks found in protein-rich foods. For this reason, you require sufficient protein in your daily diet,. You may need slightly higher amounts after a lengthy illness. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, tofu, nuts and low-fat milk and dairy products.

  3. Sinchana2:43 PM

    Fresh or cooked produce is a good source of essential dietary fiber to help your digestion and bowel movements return to normal after an illness. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants that help your body get rid of toxins more efficiently

  4. Manjushree2:44 PM

    t is important to drink plenty of water and other fluids during and after illness. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, weakness, light-headedness and nausea. You may lose fluids due to a loss of appetite or through diarrhea and vomiting.

  5. Leela2:46 PM

    probiotics should be used routinely to help reduce recovery time.


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