Ever have one of those days? You know exactly what I mean. One of those days where it seems from the moment you wake up until the moment you finally lay your head back down at night where it seems as if the proverbial Mr. Murphy has touched everything you decide to do just to give you some unexpected challenges. Continue reading “One of Those Days…”
When dealing with the daily challenges of chronic illness one never truly escapes the grieving process. We may, given enough time after diagnosis, learn how to cope with our new lives but glimpses of the past can seep in time and again, when we least expect it. Let me share with you just one such example of how this can happen, or at least how it happened to me recently. Continue reading “Grieving Our Former Selves Never Really Stops”
I’ve been trying to figure out how to share this for hours since it happened. I am going to try to write this so that it makes the most sense, but beg your forgiveness if it is a bit disjointed in its presentation. I thought a great deal before deciding to write this post and decided I must share it so that others who may encounter similar situations can know that they are not alone. Continue reading ““Big Name” Food Store Pharmacy Penalizes Patients”
Time is a finite thing when it comes to our lives regardless of whether we are healthy or ill. None of us know how long we will have on this planet before our time is up. This is a fact. Also a fact is that while many of us do not wish to talk about it we really need to be having the difficult discussions with our family about what we )and they) may desire should either become unable to make or communicate decisions regarding their medical care on their own. Continue reading “Time to Talk – #AtoZChallenge2018”
People With ‘Invisible Disabilities’ Fight For Understanding
There is nothing more frustrating as a patient than having a provider look at you and summarily discount your symptoms as ‘impossible’. It is very common that we are hesitant, even afraid, of that which we do not understand. It is also true that those trained to diagnose and treat us could and should be held to a higher standard.
It is to them we look when our body revolts against us in ways which we do not understand. It is them to whom we turn when we feel our body couldn’t possibly be destroying itself as it seems to be doing. It is our physicians we look to for an answer of that which we cannot make sense of on our own. And that is how it should be for they are the ones with years and years of education and experience upon which to base their examination and diagnosis.
However, when learning the science of medical care, they are often taught to think of the most common diagnosis first. While on the surface this makes sense, oftentimes they fail to diligently pursue our entire history and symptoms in order to make a proper diagnosis. As with anything in life one must take into account all pertinent information in order to make a proper determination as to what is happening.
A phrase often used early in one’s practice of treating other human beings is “when you think hoofbeats think horses, not zebras.” While this may work in the majority of cases, I assure you that it does not work well in every scenario, nor should it be expected to. A better way to phrase this lesson would be “when horses no longer make sense, start thinking zebras”.
Frequently when a physician actually takes the time to perform a full and complete exam and history they are left at a loss as to precisely what the cause may be in their more complex population of patients. That is because those of us with complex medical problems do not present as the typical patient. Our symptoms may not even make sense presenting with each other. Nevertheless, we are very real and so are our symptoms. We deserve to be believed and to have our complaints and symptoms taken seriously regardless of whether they make immediate sense or not.
Both when working in patient care, and while being a patient, I have encountered too many stories of people suffering for years prior to receiving a true and accurate diagnosis. While it is true that sometimes a proper diagnosis eludes medical science, it is also true that sometimes when a diagnosis isn’t readily recognizable, we as patients suffer. Sometimes we suffer needlessly when just a little perseverance on the part of our medical professionals would provide an answer. Other times a diagnosis just isn’t possible.
My suggestion to medical professionals is to be willing to consider zebras when horses no longer make sound medical judgment. Don’t be unwilling to consider the obscure. Be more than willing to advocate for and on behalf of your patients right to proper diagnosis and treatment. Above all else, do no harm. For when you dismiss us, you are often causing irreparable harm physically, medically, and emotionally.
Do you have a story you’d like to share regarding a challenge in obtaining a proper diagnosis or treatment? Please share with us in the comments below.
F is for Keep Fighting! #AtoZChallenge
When facing a chronic health issue it is easy to lose the determination to fight at times. Many of us display great fortitude when fighting chronic illness. We don’t necessarily do this because we are any better than anyone else. We do this because this is all we know. We keep fighting for the next potential treatment, or if we are truly lucky a cure. We often fight one day, week, or month at a time, just trying to make it until the we make it through, or are faced with another challenge in addition to the one we already had.
Many people who battle chronic illness are faced with more than one diagnosis, or even side effects of the treatments aimed at improving our quality of life. Occasionally even the most steadfast warriors experience a rough day. During such a day it is not unlikely that they will question the quality of their life. Keeping it in perspective it is often a matter of making sure the positive aspects of their life outweighs the negative.
It is during these times that even the strongest of us can find that we wonder if it is worth the fight. Wondering if it is worth it is not a sign of weakness. In reality, the strongest among us will eventually have a bad day or period of time in which we can’t help but wonder. It is what we do when we experience these difficult times that determine both how we react and how we will come through the tough times. Realizing that tough times happen even to healthy people, should help to keep things in perspective.
The defining moment for us is not how we battle daily life, but how we face the challenges in our low points. By focusing on the positive and realizing that the low points are temporary you can get through almost anything.
What do you do to get through the extremely challenging times in your life? Share your story with us below, and most importantly, keep fighting!
E is for Being Excited About Life! #AtoZChallenge
So you or someone you care about has a chronic illness. It isn’t the end of life as you know it.
Remember the excitement for life that you had before you got sick? You can have that again! Just because your health has changed, maybe even drastically, does not mean all is lost.
Today, more so than ever before, technological advances have enabled even the most limited in physical activity to remain at the very least mentally active. So if you have the desire, there are lots of things you can do to remain active and yes, even passionate about life!
Without going into specific examples based on your previous level of knowledge and expertise in any given area, there are still a variety of things you could do to occupy your mind and your time. You could use your previous knowledge to educate others. For that matter, you could use your current situation as a catalyst so that, when you are ready, you can share your experience with others. You could decide to pursue further education and new career goals.
Maybe you are not only chronically ill but also suffer from the effects of chronic pain as I do. If you find yourself unable to hold regular employment, all is still not lost. There are still plenty of ways you can continue to feel like you have something to contribute. Even something as simple as becoming a volunteer in a facility or unit that made a difference for you.
While maybe that isn’t as fulfilling in your mind as employment, I can tell you that there is something quite as fulfilling as being able to give back to those that have taken the time to help you when you needed it. Remember when you were at the worst possible point in your health and someone took the time to stop and talk with you? Remember how good it felt that someone actually cared who maybe didn’t need to, in the aspect that they weren’t being paid to do so? You can be there for someone else. Maybe you encounter a patient who could draw inspiration from the fact that you had been where they currently are, and you prevailed.
Become excited about life again!
Have you found a new purpose in your life after health issues? Share your story with us below!
C is for Compassion
Compassion, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”. Or in more simple terms, “it refers to both an understanding of another’s pain and the desire to somehow mitigate that pain”.
Compassion is often an undervalued trait in people as a whole, especially true in the field of healthcare. I’ve had some wonderfully compassionate and caring nurses, and physical rehab specialists of various disciplines, and physician assistants. These people were able to make a very challenging and difficult situation much more tolerable by the seemingly simple act of compassion.
But it really isn’t a simple thing. Some practitioners I’ve encountered, mostly very competent ones, had an apparent lack of ability to show compassion or basic caring for another person. To these few, I was simply a medical challenge placed in front of them upon which to practice their particular healthcare craft.
While these people seem to be the exception to the rule, I find it distressing that anyone in such a caring profession could be without the ability to care about their patient as a human being vs. an illness or disease. These few function as robots who take input in the form of symptoms and spit out a diagnosis in response.
Are we to blame for this, or is an inherent lack of ability to feel for their patients? Is it a result of the demands placed on our healthcare practitioners by an extremely taxed and highly regulated system of medicine? Did they somehow lose their compassion in the bureaucracy of our healthcare system which seems to be run by the insurance companies rather than sound medical judgment? Or have they simply shut off their emotions in an attempt to survive in the sea of healthcare battles they find themselves in on a daily basis?
This article is neither an attack on our healthcare system nor what may or may not be wrong with it. Rather it is simply some observations based on real life experiences that beg for these questions to be answered.
Share your thoughts, with us, below.
No matter what you are going through, you must believe…
- In your strength
- In your abilities
- In your worth
- In humanity
- In yourself!!!
Sometimes in life we find ourselves facing a life altering event of some sort. It could be the loss of a job, or the loss of a loved one. Perhaps you’ve suffered some sort of major medical crisis or traumatic injury. You may think I am being vague, and you’d be correct. I am intentionally being vague because what constitutes a major life changing event is often subjective and as such it varies from one person to another.
Despite the catalyst for your challenge, there are some common reactions and challenges. Depression and even grief are very common results which can add to decreased feelings of self-worth. Recognizing these emotions and their existence can aid you in facing the challenges of adjusting to the circumstances of your individual life challenge. While simply existing may seem counterintuitive to the point of this, sometimes just existing shows your desire and willingness to work through your challenges. Don’t sell yourself short, for sometimes willing yourself to survive is no small feat! The days when you feel up to it, believe in good things to come. The days you lack the strength or ability to believe this, just believe in making it through the minute, hour, and day in front of you. If you do this over and over, one day you will find yourself suddenly moving on in a positive new direction, despite your challenges.
Despite battling multiple major and chronic health issues and injuries over the last twenty years, I’ve had plenty of days where even I simply had to get through the next hour, and then the next one, one at a time until I made it through the day. Days like this, when I feel as if I just can’t go on, often leave me surprised that I made it through. On the very challenging days, ‘simply existing’ isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary I feel it is a sign of strength when you make it through any given day, despite your challenges. So believe in yourself, because if you don’t, how can you expect others to?
As time marches on and you adjust to your situation, you may well decide that while you understandably miss your previous sense of self, you can pursue another passion you hadn’t previously thought about. The only limit to what we can achieve, is our own perception of our situation. While very real limitations may in fact exist, it isn’t uncommon for us to feel that they are insurmountable. Sometimes what we perceive as a limitation, may actually reveal itself as a strength as you begin to work through things and pursue options you hadn’t previously thought about.
I highly recommend journaling to help you comprehend the flood of thoughts and emotions you may be experiencing. Write every day. Write especially on the days you don’t feel like it or just plain don’t want to. Later when you go back and read it days, week, months, or even years later, you will likely find things that surprise you. When you are in the midst of a major challenge, you may not be able to think clearly, or even understand everything you may be thinking or feeling. I’ve spoken with a great many people who swear by journaling to get the jumble of thoughts out of their head, onto paper where they suddenly find themselves more relaxed and thus more able to process all the thoughts. Some people report feeling a calm sense of objectivity when reading their own journal, as if it is someone else’s words that they are reading. This can give a fresh perspective on how to best manage the challenges before you.
Have you had a major challenge in your life that, despite it feeling insurmountable, you made it through? Feel free to share in the comments.
Above all else, remember to just believe….