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Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs. And when it comes to your health, receiving a troubling diagnosis can be life-changing. Fortunately, there are things you can do that can help you along the way.
Whether you’ve recently received one or have someone in your life who has, here are four things to consider doing in the days, weeks, months, and even the years that follow.
- Advocate, Advocate, Advocate
One of the scariest things about receiving a troubling health diagnosis is how overwhelming it can be. You might feel paralyzed by fear, completely blindsided, hopeless, or angry — maybe a combination of everything. Having these strong feelings can be overwhelming, but it’s really important that you don’t lose sight of the big picture.
If there ever was a time for you to speak up for yourself, to be your own advocate, it’s now. For example, this could be done by reaching out to your doctor when you’re wondering “Can MS affect breathing?”, or by researching your options for treatment if you’re not feeling comfortable with your current plan of care.
If you’re struggling with this, you still have options. Do you have a trusted friend or loved one who can help you to get questions answered, or issues or concerns addressed and resolved? Ask for help. Don’t forget about patient care advocacy programs as well.
- Get Your Life in Order
Health diagnoses don’t typically come at convenient times. They don’t wait until you’re in a comfortable spot financially, or until you’ve got enough time off accrued at work to cover your treatments or appointments. They don’t wait until your personal affairs are up-to-date, or until you don’t have children depending on you each day.
Even though you can’t change the reality of your life, you can take this time to evaluate everything from your important documents, such as your will or estate, to figuring out logistical factors such as necessary childcare, transportation, and how to best manage your work schedule. Taking a look at the big picture here can help you determine where to focus your attention to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.
- Find Support in Faith
A wonderful time to establish your faith, build on it, or revisit it is when you’re learning to work through and live with a troubling diagnosis.
The beautiful thing about faith is that there is no right or wrong. It’s about finding comfort and strength in something bigger than what you’re going through. It’s about leaning on your faith when it seems that all else might be failing. It’s about having a safe place to wander when you need a boost in morale or confidence.
Prayer and meditation may also have healing properties due to the sense of relaxation and peace they can promote.
- Build Your Support System
One of the most important things to remember when given a tough diagnosis is that you do not have to go through it alone. A support system is vital, if not necessary, for your well-being as you navigate these changes.
However, forming a support system isn’t always easy, especially if you’re uncomfortable asking for help or if you don’t have a large circle of family or friends. If this is a concern of yours, remember that there are other resources available to provide support and guidance during these times.
While you may consider a support system to be the same as advocacy, think of it as more tightly woven into your daily life. It could be having a therapist to meet with regularly, a meal train to cover your family’s needs for a duration, or a support group of others going through a similar situation. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend or family member even if all you need is someone to sit with you or lend an ear. Remember that in general, people want to help.
Learning that you’ve been diagnosed with any type of condition can be an extremely stressful and scary time, full of unknowns and what-ifs. While it’s never simple, there are ways to make working through these life changes a little easier. It’s always good to keep these things in mind.