Risk Factors & Comorbidity *

    22 Feb 2018     

          More thoughts on the "secrets" of medical science. The CDC defines comorbidity as when "more than one disease or condition is present in the same person at the same time."  “multimorbidity” or “multiple chronic conditions.”  I discovered this concept when I was taking a class on healthy living with chronic conditions. We had people in the class with arthritis, a psychosis related illness, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, etc., and we learned about how more than one illness increases a person's chance of death exponentially.
         Therefore we who have one - I have rheumatoid arthritis for instance - are at higher risk of death, illness, or death; people who have two - such as shcizoaffective illness + heart disease - are at even more risk. Comorbidity makes the concept of healthy self-care more than just something that's good for us. In the case of chronic illness, learning healthy self-care is essential. Having grown up in a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps family, I didin't learn self-care until after my daughter died. Consequently I did not teach these skills to my kids either.
          Kaylan lived with SIADH and IBS from early childhood, OCD from age nine, and arthritis from age sixteen. Sometimes her fingers and toes turned purple as if she had Reynaud Syndrome. When I looked up the comorbidity factors for her, and then add in the grief of losing her baby and misuse of alcohol - her risks were off the charts. Actually they were off the charts before losing her baby. So much of what I've learned since her death has caused regret for not knowing. I wish I wish I wish... the mantra of so many mamas.

UMass Center for Mindfulness
Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions
NIMH on comorbidities
CDC on comorbidities
Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale - indicators for injury risk