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.