Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Should we be striving for Familiarity?

They used to say that we’re all strangers in a strange land.  The question is how long do we act as strangers and shouldn’t we be looking or hoping to become familiar with our surroundings?  It seems to me that when we are familiar with people, surroundings, or situations we’re more at ease and that promotes health and healing.

How does this apply to you following your diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness?  The truth is that you’ll begin to have regularly scheduled appointments in many places.  You’ll go to the doctor, the lab, and possibly another location for treatment.  How well do you know those who work in those locations?

We know that they know you, at least as a number on a file, but wouldn’t it be nice to become familiar with those who know intimate details about your life?  Personally, I try to get to know a couple of people in any doctor’s office, the receptionist, the nurse, and the medical assistant.  Many doctor’s are very busy and although we’d like direct access, your best bet may be familiarity with these other key employees.

I’m not saying you need to know their bank account numbers or blood type, but it doesn’t hurt to ask how their day is going or what they did over the weekend.  If you’re going to be a regular that may develop over time unless you simply check in and go sit in the corner trying to be anonymous.  It does take putting yourself out there a bit, but it’s worth the small investment of your energy.

The truth is that if they know you as more than a chart number, you’ll get calls returned faster, questions answers until you’ve exhausted every possible scenario, and you’ll get tips and secrets that will aid you in health and healing (especially about how to deal with side-effects).

Take it from me; I had to learn the hard way, but once I discovered the secret of familiarity my visits have been a cake walk and much more enjoyable.  It’s almost a social occasion (until I get in the exam room).  Try it out and let me know how it works for you!!!


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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