Chronic Snarkopolist: Is There Such a Thing as Getting Illness Right?
Hello my loves!
One thing I have noticed about healing is how we construct our illness stories and share them with each other. Some of us have healed a great deal and some of us are still figuring it all out. And, as usual, because health comes in waves and setbacks and it is attached to our emotions too. Once we’ve conquered the bigger deals like survival, then we often work on our emotional life and mental health. Meanwhile, feeling crazy during illness is pretty par for the course.
Looking back on my history as a patient, there are mistakes I made that I find entirely laughable now. There are things I did and said that I would never do now. And, sometimes I hear newly diagnosed patients saying and doing such things or I hear doctors and nurses feeling frustrated by patients who say and do such things. And I think, “I’ve done that, there is hope for them, they just need to learn how to navigate this snarl of a mess of illness and loss of control.” No one is exempt from being a little crazy now and again. It is easy to forget when life is smooth sailing.
One beautiful woman wrote powerfully about never being given the option of having no treatment at all after being diagnosed with cancer. She wrote about feeling tired and run down yet feeling as though her doctors all believe that treating her cancer is the only viable and acceptable treatment. She feels a loss of control in her life. Having no options feels wrong.
I heard another conversation between doctors talking about “selling medical treatments” and feeling guilty about “pushing treatments” (even gently pushing) on patients when they know they are necessary. How clashing to hear these two stories juxtaposed. Of course these doctors probably never consider telling their patients about the implications of not treating diseases. They want their patients to get well! Meanwhile, few doctors, unless they have family actively dealing with it, can truly understand the emotional and physical impact of actively going through treatment. Yes, they understand disease very well, they have a doctoral degree in it. But few understand the process of going through the treatment of disease. And that is where many disconnects between patient and doctor occur.
And caretakers are rarely involved in the conversation at all. They too get thrown information and informed about an illness. They get handed caretaking responsibilities and also have to deal with personality changes and schedule changes and heavier workloads. One woman holding down a fulltime job as an attorney and dealing with her mother’s treatments and support said to me, “I sometimes hate my mother for her cancer.” No one tells caretakers they will have emotional reactions to not only an unfair disease but sometimes resentments to people who are ill.
Emotions are ok to feel as long as we are not actively abusive with our feelings! It is the guilt from the emotions or the damage we do with unprocessed emotions that harm us. And unless a caretaker has done this before with a close loved one, no one tells them this! So everyone is navigating all these new roads and learning and re-learning who they are and where they stand. Sometimes people who were in charge before have to take a back seat to illness, they have to stop spending time with their kids, give up jobs, give up hobbies. Of course we make mistakes!
What do you think? Is there such a thing as getting it right? Can we help others with our stories? Can we help others with our process? Can doctors and patients help each other to ease the path for each other? What is healing all about? Is healing entirely personal or is there a community aspect as well? Please tell me! I must know!
I will see you same time next week! Kiss kiss!
Tags: caretakers, chronic shnarkopolist is there such a thing as getting healing right, constructing illness stories, feeling guilty, finding our way towards wellness and healing, healing, healing is a process, learning how to recover from mistakes, looking back on personal history, making mistakes, sharing stories of illness, working with doctors is a process, written by Melissa Travis