Thursday, August 20, 2015

Good News?

After a not so great doctor's appointment, the person I was with asked me, "Good news?"

Not a good question. Not then, not really ever. 

Think about it. What if it is absolutely horrid news? Your optimism will be far from appreciated. It also puts the person on the spot. What if s/he doesn't want to talk about it? Also consider that if the news was indeed good news, there would be a good chance the person would want to share it as soon as they possibly could.

A better question might be, "Is there anything you want to talk about?" Even then, though, just letting the person take the lead might be the best thing you could do for them. I am sure you are curious. Who wouldn't be? But give your friend/loved one the space to be with whatever they need to be with. 

This is about them, not you.

Any time I hear something I don't want to hear, I need to process it first before I share it with others. I need to know how I feel about it before the feelings of others show up. I need to decide if it is news that I want to share. I need to decide how I am going to share it. I need to work stuff through for myself before it goes any farther than my head.

That is one of the myriad of reasons I no longer have someone see the doctor with me. Even if others go with me to the facility, when I see the doctor, I am alone. I had someone once ask questions that I wasn't necessarily interested in the answers. But since she was trying to help, I let it go. Kinda. I was not particularly happy. I learned an important lesson, though, from that experience, and it is one I am grateful for.

It is another thing I suggest you be mindful of when dealing with someone and their medical concerns. You may think you need to know "stuff." How much do *YOU* REALLY need to know? One question I have never asked is, "how much time do I have left?" it would piss me off if someone else asked that question - especially if in front of me.

Does that person really need to have an answer to that question? I suppose there may be some people and some circumstances that would seem to warrant it. I just suggest really considering some of the things you might think are obvious - especially if you think they are obvious. 

If it was you in the situation, my guess is that you'd want to be in control, and decide who should know what/when. And given it is "your" thing, it should be respected. 

Will it be easy for the other people? Probably not. It may even piss them off. All too often a person's situations and issues can get turned around, and it becomes about those who aren't dealing with the immediacy of the situation, but rather the about the person who is dealing with the immediacy of the situation.

I realize there are overlaps. I realize there are no clear lines. The best anyone can hope for is compassion. If you were the one who was losing your ability to do things, if you were the one who felt  their dignity was compromised, if you were the one who felt like your life was no longer your own, or in your control, as hard as it may be for those who were helping, you would really want and appreciate any latitude and respect others could give you.

No one asks for situations like these. And the fact is many will try to avoid, or control them, as much as possible. There is a good chance that if you are trying to control a situation in which another person is the one immediately affected and suffering you may not be helping as much as you think - if what you do is done without much thought or regard for the other person.

I am desperate to try to find a way to take care of myself, especially if I really find myself in need. I am terrified of what could happen. It is not like I have a compassionate, understanding spouse, and live in my own home. I would almost rather die alone than be around people who would not treat me with the kind of respect I am talking about here. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.

I am sure there are all too many people who have no choice and find themselves in impossible situations. I once helped a senior lady home from the grocery store to discover that she lived in a niece or nephew's house, in the attic. The situation did not seem welcoming, nor ideal. My heart wanted to help, but I had no idea what I could do. When I called her afterward, she did not remember me. I wound up just letting it go.

I suspect, though, that there are many who are only tolerated by others, and therefore not treated very well at all. I do not want to be one of "them." If I am on my way out of this world I do not want my last days to be ones that include being "tolerated." And this applies to not only my journey with cancer. Should I live to become an old woman, I feel the same way.

It is part of the reason I think about things like Death with Dignity. I'd much rather go out on my own terms, in my own time, than linger in a situation that is uncomfortable in more ways than "just" the physical. I'd rather be alone or dead than tolerated.

Boy. This post is intense. Deep stuff coming out. Fears. Emotions. Pain.

Sucky, but good stuff.

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  1. Something to think about and act on. I see where you're coming from and being mindful of someone's need to be in control of a situation is important. I have more than a few (in-laws, friends, sibling) who are dealing with various health challenges and I'm doing my best to help when I can, with what they need, and to stay out of the way...trying not to intrude on their autonomy and their processing of information, emotion, and more. Your post will definitely help me keep things in balance. Be mindful. I hope anyone who reads this, and anyone who's close to you, can understand how important that balance is.

    1. Sorry to hear of the array of issues/concerns. I appreciate your feedback, as it is a great hope of mine that those who read the things I share will be able to apply them to those they care about and love. As I said to Esther, there are no set parameters that work. I am finding new stuff all the time. Every person and circumstance may vary, and my quirks may not be another's. But what I hope is that there is mindfulness, questioning, and a level of contemplation and empathy when dealing with those who need help. Odds are most of them wish they never needed you the way they do, and it can be such a painful thing on so many levels. Perhaps a bit of understanding can alleviate some of that. Thx for being here :)

  2. I know this is all after the fact, but is it possible for you set up parameters of what to say or not say for your next doctor's appointment. You can specifically say, the best way to support me is to...(fill in the blank).
    And you're right it's important to be mindful of the person actually going through the situation.

    1. I have learned a lot about what I need/don't need over the last 3+ years. What those things are are often figured out in the experiences I have. When I am clear about what works, I do try my best to convey it both to people in person, as well as here, on this blog so that lessons learned may help others. Often I have found that there are things I don't know, until I know. You know? And, unfortunately, there are no universal ways of expressing everything a person should know entering these waters with me. I wish there were for all of our sakes, but there just aren't. Part of the way that I now deal with things come from lessons learned. So far it seems to work pretty well for me, in some regard. It is the regard that I cannot predict or control that can become the hiccup. Thx for continuing to show up here :) One of these days we really should talk.