Thursday, April 3, 2014

"Let Me Recommend this New Remedy...."

For the chronically-ill, we hear these words come from well-meaning friends on too frequent of occasions. It's sometimes hard to not respond (especially on trying days) regarding the harsh reality of what we experience day-in and day-out to even begin to cope with the pain...with the discomfort...with the symptoms of the chronic illness we each face individually. For my friends, I would like to share with you my insight as to why offering advice on new medical treatment and remedies is not popular among those of us with chronic illness. In addition, I will address how the chronically ill are encouraged to respond - with grace.

From a friend or family member's point of view, the individual offering medical advice (new treatments/remedies) is usually always doing so to attempt to improve the quality of life of the one suffering from a chronic illness. On occasion, I have had the rare offer from "friends" that are selling a product and claim to be offering the remedy to me in order to be of help (but at a cost, and at a profit to them - with no personal contact or interest in my personal life prior to this business offer). I also personally experience a constant presence of strangers who feel they must share their opinion on the "latest and greatest" in the medical field.

You might ask "why don't you want to hear what I have to say? After all, it can't hurt, right?"

Unfortunately, I usually have to "hear what you have to say". I try to be nice about the situation. I attempt to handle frustrations like this with grace. It is still an annoyance, however.

I have a wonderful specialist who is knowledgeable in all the cutting edge treatments and remedies for my particular diagnoses. Even better - he treats my conditions on a normal basis...he knows what medications I take...he knows my medical history. I trust my doctor. He has the credentials to give me medical advice. Others do not.

For the chronically ill, the biggest question is that of how to respond with grace and dignity...a response that would get the message across, yet reflects Christ.
Let's just be honest - responding to unwanted medical advice (from someone other than a medical professional) can be very difficult. It takes strength to respond with grace. Anyone who has been there can understand.

I have found a few sayings to be very helpful when people mention remedies or advice.
"Thank you, but my specialist and I have a treatment plan that I feel is the best route right now."
"Thank you. I've been doing a lot of research as well."

For the friend and family members of those with chronic illness, the lesson is simple.
This advice can go for strangers, too. If you feel that you have valid advice that should be shared, don't do so without the other's permission. Ask. If they gently decline, don't be offended. Even so, be sure that the advice you feel is "valid" is indeed that - if it is not, the person who is chronically ill may never want to hear you out again when it comes to medical advice. Also remember that a treatment option that worked for you doesn't work for everybody. More than likely, it's already been discussed and/or tried through a team of medical professionals and the patient.

If you want to be a help to your chronically-ill friend, offer a day with some quality time with them, offer to do some housework/chores/yard work, etc. I guarantee you that your offer of help will be seen as a genuine act of compassion and love - a far cry from offering a tid-bit of unwanted advice.

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Mental Illness and the Church