For reasons I’d rather not get into, illness – the serious kind – has been on my mind a lot over the past several months. I thought I’d share here a list of things I’ve found useful.
Honor your instinct. This means that if you don’t feel well, you need to launch on a search of why that is. Sometimes a doctor says what we desperately want to hear (“there is nothing wrong with you”) and the temptation to bury what our body is telling us is greater than the ocean. This results in the loss of valuable time (and in you continuing to feel like shit.) You’ll find answers. It might just take a while.
Doctors are not gods. Sometimes they don’t know what to do. They often make mistakes (Ask one. She’ll tell you.) Be skeptical. Believe in the value of multiple opinions.
While on the subject of multiple opinions, consider homeopathy. You have nothing to lose, as this kind of treatment has no side effects. (I will possibly tell you more about this in a future entry. Homeopathy is mind-boggling and fabulous if the doctor practicing it is very good.)
Make a list of symptoms and take notes of things you want to discuss with your doctor. You’ll forget otherwise.
Don’t worry about worrying the people who love you. No matter how much this concerns you, you can’t do much about it, and you (very badly) need to channel your energy towards more immediate things, like your health. Besides, people who love you want to be there for you. Give them some credit. Which takes me to my next point.
Never go to the doctor alone. More than one listener means perspective. Particularly valuable if you are in a panic or emotionally involved.
And, if I could leave you with just one thing, it would be this: don’t be afraid. I’ve learned (thank you Kate for helping me get there) that the opposite of fear is faith. I don’t know about you, but there has been a shortage of faith in my pragmatic, intellectual, non-religious family. Getting on your knees and praying to a force bigger than you (whatever you conceive this to be) beats having all the facts this wired world has to offer. Have faith. If you don’t have any, go find it.