Posted in Having a Voice in Healthcare


When you hear the word “breakout” it may conjure up scaling prison walls in search of freedom.  I find as I talk to more and more people diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness that the “breakout” is not about escaping, but figuring out how to deal with being backed into a corner.

Let’s face it, once the diagnosis is given the medical community feels that the steamroller is the most useful tool in getting you to accept their diagnosis and treatment plan.  The big question is that to empower ourselves as patients it’s crucial that we ask questions and begin what could be one of the most important conversations of your life.

The medical community isn’t different from any other profession, the only difference is that with doctors the decisions could be a matter of life and death.  Whether it’s about a diagnosis or treatment, doctors have to deal with something called, “cognitive literature diagnostic momentum”.  They attach themselves to a diagnosis (or treatment) and over time it gets stickier and stickier.  Like a dog with a bone it may be difficult or near impossible to move the provider from their stance on your care.

Surprise!  The truth is that it’s your decision.  What we often forget is that the treatment regimen is up to us.  We have to remember that for some, no treatment is a treatment option.  I know that sounds crazy, but we’re talking about free will, not having something shoved down your throat.  Yes Virginia, no treatment is an option.  It’s not about going rogue, it’s about knowing in your soul what you’re capable of handling or willing to handle.  I repeatedly comment about my own father wishing that when the day comes (many years in the future) that he dies that he goes with one big heart attack in his sleep because he’s already made his wishes known that treatment will never happen.  I know it may be a shock, but that’s his decision.

Keep yourself out of the corner and keep your physical, emotional, and spiritual options out in the open.  It’s important to stay in the question always wondering what options still exist and what options might you be willing to try?  It’s also important that communication between you and your doctor be open and honest so you don’t ever feel backed into a corner.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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