Here are some tips from the IMF Hotline Team to ensure that your holidays are as happy and stress-free as possible:
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US AT THE IMF
- See your doctor as early as possible in December. Don’t wait until the holidays arrive, and your doctor, his staff, and the hospital staff are working shorter days or vacationing. If at all possible, you want to avoid getting caught with a medical problem or an emergency between Christmas and the first of the year. Be proactive.
- Make sure your immunizations are up to date. You should get a seasonal flu shot and have a pneumonia shot once every five years. (But remember, no shingles vaccine! It is a live virus and myeloma patients should not be exposed to it, either directly or indirectly.
- Travel safely. If you are planning to fly on a commercial airliner, bring sanitizing wipes and clean the arm rests, tray table—front and back—and any other surfaces that you need to touch. Before you travel, you may want to order a personal air purifier from an on-line source (several brands are available; just search for “personal air purifier”).
- If you’re traveling, go equipped with the name of a hematologist/oncologist at your destination. Ask your local doctor if s/he can refer you to someone who practices in the area you’re visiting. If the doctor can’t help you, call the IMF Hotline for help with a referral. It’s for that “just in case scenario,” but can make your travel less stressful if you know you’re prepared for an emergency.
- Eat and drink sensibly over the holidays. We’re all tempted by the abundance of holiday goodies, but if you’re taking dexamethasone, you have to be especially careful about the amount of sugar and carbohydrates you consume. The word to the wise is “moderation.”
- Get plenty of rest. Pace yourself, and don’t pack the holidays with more events than your system can handle. It’s okay to say “no” occasionally, or to sit out an activity in order to get some needed down time or an extra hour or two of sleep.
- Avoid crowds and sick friends and relatives. Avoiding the mall at peak times, or seeing a movie at a time when the theater is least crowded (matinees often draw fewer viewers, unless it’s a kids’ movie) can save you from a barrage of germs. You can slip on a mask when the theater lights go down if you’re embarrassed to wear one in public, or you can adopt the no-nonsense attitude of many citizens of Asia, and simply wear the mask proudly and preventively when you’re out in public. Difficult as it may be, say “no” to visits with family members who are sniffling and coughing. There are many unwelcome viruses at this time of year, and your job is to dodge as many of them as possible. (And if you weren’t crazy about those sniffling relatives in the first place, then we’ve given you the perfect excuse to avoid them.)
- Schedule time for some exercise. It’s a great counter-balance to all the holiday eating. If you live in warmer climes, and you’re able, get out and walk around the block, or around part of the block. For those who dwell in the winter cold, visit the gym, ride a stationary bike, or walk early in the morning around that mall that will become too crowded later in the day. Don’t just sit around eating and vegging out—unless “vegging out” means “eating fresh vegetables” to you.
- Take some time to do something for others. The best medicine can be the exercise of addressing another’s problems or needs. If you are able, help stock a food bank, visit a senior home, cook a meal or a dish for someone who is ill or hungry, donate a toy or book, drive a patient to the doctor, sit and listen to a someone who needs a sympathetic ear. Opportunities to help are abundant, especially at this time of year.
- And finally, if you imbibe during the holidays, drink red wine (in moderation), which is high in antioxidant polyphenols. Of course, you can and should also consume other sources of polyphenols, which include honey; most legumes; fruits such as apples, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, pomegranate, cherries, cranberries, grapes, pears, plums, raspberries, and strawberries; and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, celery, onion and parsley. In addition to red wine, you can also drink white tea and green tea, which are also good sources of polyphenols (though regarding green tea, if you are taking Velcade, you should avoid drinking it the same day you receive your dose). And don’t forget that greatest and tastiest of all polyphenols…..CHOCOLATE. Enjoy…but not too much!