The physical impact of stress

PillsAs Anthony and I both struggle with sore throats this week, I am reminded of the continual sickness that has plagued me since Aidan’s diagnosis.

To be fair, our current sore throat has most likely been caused from the fact that it is winter here and viruses are rampant at this time of year but sore throats, along with many other ailments, are common occurrences in our house. Despite cup loads of rooibos tea, hot lemon in the mornings, immunity boosting soup as well as garlic and echinacea tablets, there seems no way of avoiding it.

There is a lot of scientific evidence linking stress with physical ailments but never have I truly experienced it until Aidan was diagnosed with his disease. While we are not always living in times of crisis, feelings of stress and anxiety are part and parcel of caring for a child with a terminal illness.

The Australian Psychological Society terms it ‘chronic stress’ and describes it as this:

“This involves ongoing demands, pressures and worries that seem to go on forever, with little hope of letting up. Chronic stress is very harmful to people’s health and happiness. Even though people can sometimes get used to chronic stress, and may feel they do not notice it so much, it continues to wear people down and has a negative effect on their relationships and health.”

It has certainly done that. The list of common ailments I have experienced since D-day (diagnosis day) include:

  • Heartburn – This was one of the first and worst symptoms I experienced. When the over the counter medications did nothing, the doctor prescribed something stronger, which I am still on to this day.
  • Mouth ulcers –the first sign I am run down.
  • Coughs and colds – stress weakens the immune system. This, coupled with not eating properly during hospitalisations, and regular visits to hospital mean I pick up every bug going round.
  • Sore throats – sometimes associated with coughs and colds but mostly I get a sore throat due to an intense emotional build up and the need to cry.
  • Nausea – particularly during times of hospitalisations. This is sometimes accompanied by dizziness and feeling like I am going to faint.
  • Painful jaw – a clear sign I have been clenching at night and is often accompanied by a headache and sometimes even a neck ache.

At a time when I need to be at my A-game, I am often frustrated when my body lets me down. How does your stress manifest itself with you?


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