Monday, June 4, 2012

Everyone has good days and bad days...

It always amazes me when I hear people talking about my health in hushed and whispered tones, having a good day or bad day isn't something that is exclusive to the terminally ill.  Everyone experiences good days and bad days! You could be at work and have a day from hell, wouldn't you consider that a bad day?  I think it is just a bad a day as if I were sick with nausea and vomiting don't you?

Why is it that people still refuse to talk about Cancer and HIV?  Why do they treat them like they are words of power, quietly fearful that speaking them out loud might draw their attention toward them.  It seems people talk quietly about these things around you, never too you.  Why is that?  Mostly I think it is out of respect for the person who is ill, but often it makes those of us who are dealing with the illness feel like it is a taboo or sacred topic that shouldn't be discussed.  This is totally wrong, we cannot dispel the irrational fear that surrounds these words unless there is open dialog about them.  How can people learn and be informed about a subject if they skirt the issue and won't discuss it.

Often times those of us who are ill want to talk about what we are going through and how we feel about it, but who can we talk to if our family and friends don't want to hear it or are afraid that talking about it might upset us?  Good question huh?  The truth is cancer cannot be drawn to you by talking about it, neither can HIV, these are topics that need to be talked about and discussed.  A person afflicted with these illnesses go through an extensive grieving process, emotions run high, tempers flare, and depression can creep up and a host of other things. A terminally ill person needs a support network, they need to be able to express their feelings in a comfortable environment for their own peace of mind.  Believe it or not talking about it helps us get the situation out in the open, we feel a relief when it is out.  Sometimes just talking about something and revealing it in the light of day, takes the fear and power away from the thing.  Whispering about it, skirting the issue, and absolutely not talking about it perpetuates the fear and anxiety, it fuels the energy and gives power to the illness.

A person who is going through the illness learns so much, they learn all about the illness, it's affects on their body, and they gain and intimate knowledge of their bodies, they can feel and understand things that are happening to them before the doctors and nurses do.  If you talk to them they can give you insights into their particular illness and their own personal well being.  If you take the time to talk to them, explain about your day, you might be surprised they could actually have some advice for you.  Often times a person with a terminal illness sees things from a different perspective and can look objectively on your situation and point out to you what they see.  Everyone feels better when they have someone who will listen to them. The stress and aggravation of the situation is often abated by talking about it and just getting it out in the open and having someone else listen to you.

Each of us needs to vent and be able to express ourselves, by doing so we feel the weight of the burden lifting off of our shoulders, and relief floods in and all emotion from the drama seems to loosen its grip on us. Having a friend or family member that you can talk to about any situation or illness is a blessing.  Cultivate those relationships, because you never know when you are going to need someone's shoulder to lean on and an ear to cry into.  And even though it might seem like you are trying to be respectful of a person and what they are going through by talking about it quietly, you aren't really.  You are giving power and credence to the power of the word, you are perpetuating the myth surrounding the illness.  Trust me the person you are speaking about will feel much better if you just discussed it openly and rationally with them and others, not hush and in quiet tones.

Everyone has a bad day, it is not the purview of the terminally ill alone.  Situations and circumstances can make a day good or bad for everyone.  Remember that, and remember to ask your friends and family how their day was, get them talking, be a good listener and offer comfort and support.  No one wants to feel pity or shame, they want to be heard and often times are looking for advice on their situation.

If you have a friend or family member that is terminally ill, do them a favor, and talk about what they are going through, listen to them and be there for support, they really could use it.  They don't want to be alone in their situation, and will definitely benefit from having you around, and if you are discussing them with someone else be sure to talk normally, hide your fear.  Because if you are skirting the issue and talking in hushed tones you are actually hurting them whether they let you know or not.

Finally one last thought here if they are trying to talk to you about the future, listen to them, no matter how uncomfortable you feel, because believe it or not they feel way more uncomfortable about the situation then you do.  Listen to them, help them sort out the things they are working on, and accept the decisions they have made and be supportive.  Who knows, they may pull through and never need to go through with the things you are discussing, but if they don't recover, they final arrangements are already done and all you have to do is carry out their wishes.  Don't make it harder on them, they need to work through these things and wrap up their business, whether you are ready to hear it or not, they might be ready, and you might be the only one who knows what to do in a certain situation.

The only example I can give here is this, I made the decision after my last surgery that I don't want to be revived again if I code while on the table. I want them to let me go, I don't want to be brought back this time. I have had a long battle and fight and I have been winning so far. It is time to let go because I don't want to deal with more pain and other serious things that might be looming in the distance.  It was hard for my parents to hear this, but I have made up my mind and this is how I want to proceed.  Unfortunately, I also wanted to discuss burial and funeral arrangements as well, they weren't ready, but I was, and I needed to get it out and in the open before I lost my strength and nerve.

Again, talking and discussing things bringing them into the open helps dispel the myths surrounding them and robs them of their power. Keep this in mind, and keep the dialog open.  Do what you can and be a support network for those around you that need it.  The talking and laughing and crying that will come out of this is for your friends benefit and will make it that much easier for them to deal with their own limitations and insecurities and prepare for the inevitable future.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you. I look forward to your opinions and comments.  Please join my ever growing community of readers and follow my blog.

Uncle B