A CONDITION TO LIVE WITH

Denial is the first and worst symptom.


Your doctor gives you the news.. you have a chronic disease. How do you react? Your heart catches. Air rushes out of your lungs. Your fists and throat tighten with emotion. But your mind makes all the noise. It silently insists, "no! You must be mistaken... sure I feel lousy, but it couldn't be that"

You have entered the first - and perhaps most dangerous -stage of your chronic disease: Denial.

You refuse to admit this disease is now a part of your life. This is a natural reaction - no one wants an incurable illness. It's difficult to believe that no pill, no operation, and no amount of time will banish it.

But you may be able to control this disease with your doctor's help, calm its symptoms and get on with your life - unless you flounder in denial.

What's so dangerous about denial? When you deny the disease, your self-care becomes erratic. You block the road to feeling better, you shut out your doctor, and your health deteriorates. You settle for a life of illness.

"You have a choice," says Nancy Sanders. "You can choose to control the disease, or you can let it control you. Either you can learn to cope or you can feel hopeless, guilty and crippled."

As for fear, Ms. Sanders believes it is crippling. "Knowledge erases fear," she says. "To move ahead you need to raise your expectations of what you can do...never accept mediocrity."

!! Learn as much as you can about the disease.

!!Consider counseling.

!!Meet with other people who have your chronic disease.

!!Laughter is always good medicine.

!! Don't depend on your doctor to drag you out of denial. He'll try, of course, but denial is a personal enemy you have to meet yourself.

Condensed from Family Health Update/
Autumn 1990
Saint Francis Medical Center

 

 

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