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

It Hit Me Like a Wave

I grew up in New Jersey not far from the Jersey Shore.  My horoscope sign is Cancer so I’m a big water person; always have been, probably always will be.  I remember playing in the ocean for hours, swimming, bobbing up and down and occasionally being knocked over by a big wave…back then I thought it was fun.

I remember the first time I had to give someone a positive result to their HIV test.  The moment I told them they were HIV+ it’s as if time stood still, the floor under their feet gave way, and they vanished to a far away place.  They got hit by a wave and there was no way to prepare for this kind of news.

It doesn’t get any easier to tell someone they are facing a life-altering illness.  I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease as a kid so I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t in doctor’s offices, at the pharmacist, and hoping for the next latest and greatest treatment.  I grew up with my diagnosis.  Those who believe they are healthy and get this news after living their entire lives healthy it’s like a tsunami hit them, and sucked them under the water.

If you speak to surfers they can tell you how best to navigate the waters.  There are always choices to be made such as whether or not to ride the wave,  allow the wave to pass over you, or to be temporarily consumed by the wave.  Each one takes a conscious decision because how you’ll emerge out from under or over the wave depends on this conscious decision.

I’m sure if you’ve met others who have a similar diagnosis or are facing a health challenge; there are those who ride the wave better than others.  I’m sure if I began to break it down there are components of their emotional and spiritual make-up that contributes to this state-of-mind.  Research tells us that clear and thorough information, a good social support system, and an optimistic attitude are contributing factors to successfully riding the wave.

How will you ride the wave?  What will you do to prepare for that wall of water coming at you so that it does the least amount of trauma?  How will you make the necessary decisions so you don’t get knocked over and consumed by the wave?  If you have any ideas to share we’d love to hear from you.