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

Victim or Survivor?

Working with the public I get to see a lot of colorful characters on a daily basis.  I met two women  yesterday that are facing serious illness, but doing so with a conviction that will aid their health and healing.  I watched one of the women, young, who due to prednisone has gained over a 100 pounds in six months and is no experiencing bone fractures.  Her spirits were high even being in pain, and her family was ultra-supportive of her needs.  Both of  these women had a great sense of humor at a time in their lives when many would be sitting in the dark at home.  That’s when the famous proverb flashed into my head, “It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

I find that thought extremely powerful.  It implies we all have a choice about how we handle each and every situation in our lives.  If you curse the darkness following your diagnosis of a chronic or other life-altering illness your world view is of being defeated.  What I’ve come to understand about those who choose to curse the darkness is the fear of seeing themselves (and I don’t mean physically necessarily) in the light.  The “light” accentuates our traits, gifts, and thoughts.  It brings our true selves to the forefront of our consciousness.

When facing a health challenge cursing the darkness leads to expressions like, “Whoa is me” and “Why did this happen to me?”  Those thoughts may be prevalent at the beginning while your still in shock about your diagnosis, but I can tell you as someone who has had an auto-immune disease for over thirty years, those thought patterns are the surest way to bring you down.  They are the road to unhappiness and defeat.  They challenge you on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels depleting your energy and robbing you of an opportunity to get better (remember there’s a difference between getting better and getting well).

I hope you’ll choose to light a candle and illuminate your path to health and healing.  I hope you’ll shed some light on your challenge so you can acknowledge like the two women I met yesterday how to still live life in the face of adversity.  I hope you’ll light a candle so you can give your body, mind, and spirit every advantage in overcoming your health challenge.  If you’re still cursing the darkness and reading this post, allow me to hold the candle for you until you’re ready to light it for yourself!!

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Posted in Having a Voice in Healthcare, Partnerships

Doctors Providing Hope

Every so often I come across a story the renews my faith in human nature.  It brings me peace-of-mind to know that there are still medical professionals out there willing to help someone without trying to make a buck.  ABC World News with Diane Sawyer featured Dr. Andy Moore and the medical professionals at “Surgery on Sunday” as their person(s) of the week.

“Surgery on Sunday” is in Lexington, KY where the team of medical professionals offers their surgical services once a month for those who need surgery but are uninsured.  The staff providing the services couldn’t be more humble about this magnanimous service they provide to the Lexington community.  One doctor interviewed said that the “thank you” he receives from a patient he performed surgery on is uplifting and fills his soul to the brim.

The medical professionals at “Surgery on Sunday” feel honored to provide this service to the community.  It’s actions like this that prove that a community based approach to healthcare is not only possible, but works well.  It provides a safety-net for those who are not eligible for state or federal programs like Medicare of Medicaid, thus relieving the stress to those individual in need of surgery.

A program like “Surgery on Sunday” is replicable.  It isn’t rocket science; it takes medical professionals volunteering once a month and a surgical location to make it possible.  We all have to remember that there are many ways of being paid, and one is gratitude.  A program like this not only helps those who need surgery, but extends hope to potentially millions across the country who may someday benefit from the model created by these heart-driven medical professionals.

I hope that you will send all those affiliated with “Surgery on Sunday” your best wishes and congratulations on their triumphant success.  I hope you’ll refer your medical professionals (if you have one) to the website, www.surgeryonsunday.org to show your medical team what can be accomplished to serve your own community.  Last but not least, please hold hope in your heart for what’s possible when inventive, caring people put their body, minds, and spirit to work to create something that fills a huge gap in our current healthcare system.

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

The Daily Fear

Ever wonder if you owned a newspaper what you would call it?  If you’re facing a health challenge you may call it “The Daily Fear”.  I’m not talking about the overall fear that people experience when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness; I’m talking about the pervasive fear that is prominent the moment you wake in the morning.  The fear grips you at your core because the possibility that something happened in the middle of the night is a possibility.

The “big” question for those of you facing a health challenge is, “Has there been any change since yesterday?”  We don’t ask that question wondering if things have changed for the better, but has there been any deterioration since the day before.  I’ve spoken with many who upon opening their eyes begin moving a daily routine of moving their bodies to make sure they still have mobility.  Some ask another to listen to them recite something hoping their memory is just as strong as the day before.  The rituals are numerous but all have the same goal, taking a physical inventory and comparing to the status at the end of the previous day.

I’m wondering if it’s possible to detect the day-to-day changes.  Think of raising a child, the parents don’t often see the growth because they see the child every day.  It’s only after the child is seen by someone they haven’t seen in a while that the growth spurt is punctuated.  Is it possible on a daily basis to do a self-assessment of your status?  That’s one of the reasons that having a regular schedule to see your doctor is so important.  The doctor will be able to detect the subtle or incremental changes. 

What happens when you complete the daily inventory?  Are you cognizant enough of your own body to recognize the change?  What do you do if you do notice a change?  The real daily fear is not about the change that occurs, but the impact that the change will have on all aspects of your life.  Each person has a tipping point where they ask themselves, “Is it worth the fight?”  Will the daily fear of change impact your quality of life?  What will it prevent you from doing if you notice a change?

The daily fear is about worry and the truth is that worry doesn’t change anything.  What does change things is a positive attitude, good nutrition, sufficient rest, laughter, love, good social relationships and a host of other factors that ignite your immune system.  Instead of looking for the subtle negative changes, consider how your actions today will keep the changes at bay.  What are you willing to do today that will limit or eliminate the changes in your physical being?  Think about what you can do for your physical body today that will strengthen it. 

There is no way to predict what or when changes will occur in your body.  For most, fear is not a motivating factor but an inhibiting one and you have enough inhibiting factors in your life…do you really need one more?  Consider starting your day with a daily fear-buster.  What do you have in your health arsenal that will strengthen the body, mind and spirit.  Give yourself every opportunity to ward off the negative and instill the day with hope.