• Dealing with a Difficult Diagnosis

    dealing with a difficult diagnosis

    Learning you have any illness is bad enough but when you are told you have a life-changing or life-threatening problem, how do you cope? They often start with a small symptom or two you aren’t too concerned about, but when it persists a visit to your physician is called for. Then you are sent for further testing, or get a phone call asking you to return to the office and that’s when the fear starts to set in. Do you agree? I write this because many of my loved ones have dealt with unexpectedly horrible news over the past year or I’ve seen it in my patients – and you’re never quite prepared.


    Give Way To How You Feel

    It can come as a bit of a shock to be told that you have diabetes, lupus, HIV, cancer or any of the other awful conditions possible. Once the diagnosis starts to sink in the shock is sometimes replaced with anger as people wonder ‘why me’. The experts say you should give way to your feelings of anger, frustration, fear or any other emotion because you will basically go through a process similar to grieving. It takes time to adjust to the fact that your health will not be the same again, but you have to learn to live with and cope with whatever the diagnosis may be.


    What Do You Need To Do?

    You can look up your illness on a search engine and frighten yourself silly. The possibilities can cascade in a downward spiral, but that doesn’t mean yours is the worst-case scenario. Find the key facts by all means, but speak to your doctor and find out what you can do now to help your condition or prevent anything from worsening.  You may be referred to a cancer center or to a diabetic specialist for more advice. Listen to what they have to tell you and be careful of how much notice you give to what you read on the Internet (insert eye roll). You have to remember that no two people are the same, and what happened to someone else might not happen to you.

    At a time like this it is perfectly natural to feel stressed  or overwhelmed or sometimes miss or forget things the physician has told you. Take notes of relevant matters and then you can sit and read them later, and digest what you have been told. Always feel free to ask questions!


    Discuss The Options

    In the last few years medicine has advanced dramatically and continues to do so. There can be several ways to treat any condition and you need to discuss the various options with whoever will be treating or advising you. You need to let the doctor know what your priorities are so that they can help you to decide how it would be best to move forward.


    Get A Second Opinion

    Surprisingly few Americans bother to get a second opinion about their illness. This is not meant to be saying to your doctor ‘I don’t trust you’. It is to enable you to gather as much expert advice as possible – particularly if you’re uneasy with your diagnosis. Let your doctor know what you are doing and if they value you as a patient, they will support you in this, If they don’t you should be changing your physician anyway.

    Keeping positive about dealing with a difficult diagnosis is a big help, and will make it easier for you to cope with whatever it is you have to face. A difficult diagnosis may change your life, but it is surprising just how quickly we can adapt to our new situation.



    1. October 5, 2018 / 5:05 pm

      That would be so difficult, but staying positive and getting a 2nd opintion are def very important!

    2. Nicole
      October 5, 2018 / 6:41 pm

      I deal with this a lot too! I’m a homecare occupational therapist and a lot of my job is helping and education of patients about their illness.

    3. October 6, 2018 / 12:46 am

      That can be so hard, but i definitely think that we should allow ourselves to feel whatever we need to, and that a second opinion can really be beneficial!

      cute & little

    4. October 8, 2018 / 6:37 am

      Not looking up, staying positive and second opinions are great recommendations. It’s truly important to keep positive.

    5. Stephanie
      October 8, 2018 / 8:33 am

      These are all the things I had to do when I was diagnosed with gastroparesis. It was such a scary-sounding name and a terrifying diagnosis, realizing I would never be able to live quite the same again. It’s been 4 years now since that diagnosis and I’m finding my way, but it sure is a journey!

    6. October 8, 2018 / 9:52 am

      I’m pretty healthy so I haven’t really had to deal with any difficult diagnoses but I can imagine how difficult it would be.

    7. October 9, 2018 / 7:48 am

      Second opinions are VERY important for sure

    8. Celeste Godoy
      October 10, 2018 / 4:17 am

      Such a great reminder to always get a second opinion. it never hurts to better understand what you’re going through.

    9. October 12, 2018 / 1:31 am

      It always amazes me that more people don’t insist on getting a second opinion. Physicians are human and overlook things occasionally. Great advice though, and so true….nobody is ever fully prepared for this sort of news;(

    10. October 12, 2018 / 9:51 pm

      Such great advice! Definitely agree with getting a second opinion. It’s a must!

    11. Emelina Hudec
      February 24, 2019 / 11:52 am

      You are so awesome! I don’t think I’ve read anything like that before. So good to find someone with a few unique thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality.

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