How to think?
Lately I have been a spate of articles and blog posts on overcoming physical barriers to health. These articles are usually focused on disease and are intended to give the person a new perspective on life despite their whatever issue is. There are lists ( one said blogging about your disease was bad), helpful hints, and suggestions. I think they are great except for one thing. Well maybe two things.
1. Ignoring your disease or its symptoms does not make it go away. Thinking positive may make your life better but it doesn’t change the absolute fact that the disease may change your life in ways that or unexpected.
2. So far the ones I have seen have been written either by doctors, healthcare providers or people who know people who have a disease, but who they themselves are disease free. Ye they are “around” it and have empirical evidence suggesting that their lists works, yet if you aint got it you dont get it
So what do I mean. I am not really a glass half empty person. I like thinking the good thoughts and would like to ignore the bad. Ignorance may truly be bliss but not when you have a chronic life threatening disease. While changing the words around from “I have a disease” to “the disease” is certainly a good way to think, I suppose, and can definitely make you a nicer person to be around, the fact is, you have a disease. In my case, I have emphysema. In keeping with the spirit of happy thoughts, I usually say “I have a disease the disease does not have me.”
I know what you are thinking “So far she has said a whole lot of nothing.” I will get to it then
When you are diagnosed with a chronic disease many things happens. Usually the first is something like “Oh my Gosh, now what?” Or “am I gonna die?” Then comes the (at least in my case) the slew of doctors specialists, tests, medications and the absolute feeling of helplessness and loneliness. Some folks stop there. They take the meds, they go for the ride. Nothing wrong with it. It is how they cope. Others, like myself see it as a challenge. We learn more about the disease, the meds, and figure out what we can do to help ourselves,. We become more proactive in our treatment and we reclaim our lives. And then there are those who are in between the two.
How you deal with the disease invading your body is what will make for a better quality of life. I choose to go for quality over quantity. The problem is that many medications one takes for their issues have side effects that impact how one thinks. It is easy to slip into medication fueled depression. A bit of a catch 22 for some folks. Take the meds feel down, do not take the meds feel great, but decline quicker.
A list of hints about how to think about whatever you been diagnosed with, while well meaning and perhaps helpful, is not the cure for the fear and depression that comes with a diagnosis. I think being honest with yourself about the how and why of the disease is the stepping stone to having a better quality of life. Sure if you have a cold , then saying “this cold will go away soon” might shorten the duration of the miserableness. Saying this emphysema is sure making my day tough, does nothing, but state facts. It does not shorten the duration nor does it cure it. Not ignoring symptoms, being proactive and honest with yourself and others is more helpful than anything else.
Now comes the disclaimer: I can only talk about how I feel and how my disease is progressing. I cannot know nor do I purport to know how others should or are feeling. I am not a doctor, healthcare giver or any other professional. If you are feeling worse I suggest you go see your doctor immediately and be honest with him or her.