Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Second close-up of pictureLife with chronic illness tends to go through stages, and probably the most difficult one is when you first leave the doctor’s office with a diagnosis. Perhaps, at first, you feel a bit of relief. Finally, you might exclaim, there’s a definite name for what I have!

But then, as the news sinks in, you might find yourself frozen with questions, such as:

What does this diagnosis mean?

How will my life change?

What else might happen to me?

How can I live with the new constraints/expenses/pain?

Is this diagnosis real?

I quickly realized, when I was diagnosed with lupus, that I couldn’t find answers to all of my questions all at once. In my book Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness, I liken this phase as much like peeling away the layers of an onion. It’s hard, brings tears, and takes time to get to the core of all it will mean.

But as confounding as this stage might be, it is also a hopeful (yes, hopeful!) time. Where once there was a mystery, there is now some kind of path to a definition and perhaps treatment. More than ever before, there is information available to us to learn about our diagnosis and all that it might mean (or not mean) to us, personally. Also available is the possibility of a second opinion (which I pursued when one rheumatologist first said, “I think you have lupus.”) Especially if you are wondering about the validity of the first diagnosis, a second opinion can make the situation more definitive still.

Above all, it’s important to write down your questions and take them in to your doctor appointments. As each question is answered, or at least addressed, you can move to the next, thus “unfreezing” yourself from the rigidity of feeling overwhelmed with only questions and no resolutions. Also, as I discovered, as questions are answered, life does move ahead. It becomes more possible to start to adapt to new and more healthful lifestyle habits. It becomes more possible to see light and feel God’s comfort.

When we’re first diagnosed, we might have all sorts of questions. But we don’t need to be frozen by them. Peel them away, one at a time, and be encouraged that you are farther along than you were before your doctor said, “You have…”



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