Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Diagnosis Can Make You Sick

I happened to meet a friend this morning that I'd not seen for quite sometime. He's not been feeling so well himself for many months now, but still manages to get out and about. We were commenting on our beautiful scenery and fantastic weather for this time of year. Even though it's been a little colder than usual, the sunshine certainly makes up for the loss of warmer temps.

During the usual chit chat, he asked how my husband was doing. After relating a little about how he's been feeling lately, my friend very non-chalently quoted the following:

"Yes, sometimes it's not the illness, but it's the diagnosis that can make you feel so miserable!"

I took a second to go over what he had just said, and realized that his words were so very true. It is very usual for doctors now to tell their patients the worse possible news about their illness, right up front, with no holes barred. Some may say that is the correct way to relate the news, while others, like myself might ask that physicians should take a step back, and really assess the patient's medical situation before telling very devastating news in such a negative way.

I guess you just can't sugarcoat something like that, but then again, for many patients who are told discouraging results from testing, they should also be told "any" smidgen of good news that may relate to their medical condition as well. We all tend to focus more on bad news. All one has to do is listen to any news broadcast on the airwaves, and you must agree, that there's not too much good news coming over those wires. The good news stories just seem to go by the wayside.

That's the norm as well for most patients and specifically for cancer patients. Of course I am no authority to say what is the correct way to discuss a serious illness with any patient, but I can only relate to our situation in my writings. Thank goodness my husband has a very positive attitude, never worrying about what bad news a doctor might tell him. To say it does not affect him when he first hears such devastating news, would not be accurate, but once it has time to sink in, then he pulls up his socks and he's off and to speak. No doubt, each person deals with their medical reports in different ways, but if physicians gave more focus on the positives that patient may have going on with their health, it would cause less stress. If something like their blood pressure is fairly normal, then the doctor should tell them. If their blood count is relatively good, then also tell them. If their appetite is good, even tell them how wonderful that is for them to maintain a healthy weight!

Physicians should stress the positives more and not the negatives when giving those test results. Give patients something that they can cling to for hope and not news that will bring them nothing but despair. Not every patient has that get-up-and-fight attitude, and believe me, every patient needs to hear whatever encouraging words they can when a serious illness strikes. Maintaining that positive attitude, can make the difference sometimes between their survival or their demise.

So, for readers out there who might be going for test results in the near future, try to stay focused on the good news this time. Certainly, you'll want the whole picture of just what your reports are showing, but make certain that you get the positives on your health, as well as the negatives. It will provide that extra something to keep you encouraged.

By the way, this same friend also said the following:

"No matter how high the fuel prices go, we still have to purchase it to keep the car running"!

There's a positive statement and it is next time, no matter how devastating the news might be, keep going and focus on the positives in your life!!!


Anonymous said...

What a journey your husband and yourfamily have been traveling. You certainly are all very strong. I appreciate your sharing those personal experiences with us.

Anonymous said...

Never give up. God Bless you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Well you know, that is very true. I know whenever my doctor tells me news like my b/p is high, etc. I go home and worry more about it. From now on though I will concentrate on the good things that are happening in my health.