The Evolution of a Patient

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Welcome to the thirteenth day of the National Health Blog Post Month Challenge.  Every day during the month of November I will be writing a new blog post related to health and living with a chronic illness based on given prompts provided by WEGO Health.

Today’s prompt reads:

Evolution: Write about how being a patient or caregiver has changed you.  How have your goals changed?  Have your values changed?

Patience; as a patient I have developed far more patience than I had before being a chronically ill patient.  In my opinion, patience is definitely a quality you need when becoming patient, especially when waiting often weeks or even months for hospital appointments, and for test results, and everything else that being a patient entails.  Although it is extremely frustrating having to wait so long for appointments and test results, I also think that having contact with other patients whether it is in real-life or via social media, can make this easier to bare as it makes you realise that you are not alone and able to support one another on the journey through being a chronically ill patient.

In addition, being a patient has also changed me in regards to knowing when to listen to my body.  Often, my chronic illness leaves my body very fatigued, and when this occurs  I know that I need a nap.  The consequences of not listening to my body can result in overwhelming weakness throughout my entire body as well as severe dizziness and vertigo, which can then result in being bed bound for a length of time.

Before being a chronically ill patient, I perhaps held too much faith in doctors; often seeing them through rose-tinted glasses and thinking that they are able to fix all the ailments that are presented to them.  However, after being a chronically ill patient myself, I have sadly had first hand experience in learning that often doctors are not able to cure every ailment and illness; I had to learn to accept that endless consultants were unable to cure or even help me.  I had to evolve as a person with a long-term health condition, and instead of relying on doctors to help me with my condition, I had to learn to rely on myself and learned to adapt and introduce my own coping strategies to help me cope with my health condition and new situation.  For example, recently I have learnt that mints really help with reducing the nausea that I experience and therefore as a result I know to always ensure that I have a pack in my bad when I go out.  In addition, as the dizziness has been particularly bad recently, I have learnt that wearing a hat with a brim helps somewhat as it blocks out the visual stimuli that I find bothersome and can precipitate an attack of vertigo or worsen the dizziness that I already have.

In terms of goals, they have changed considerably since my diagnosis in 2010.  I had thankfully, already achieved a major goal of mine in completing my University education and gaining a degree in Psychology.  However, other goals such as travelling, moving out of home and getting my first job had to be put on hold whilst my illness was bad and we were still searching for a diagnosis.  Now, that we have that diagnosis, and especially since last week’s hospital appointment which all but confirmed the dizziness as being neurological and being a lack of treatment or cure; as well as my current state of health then I am not sure whether I will achieve any of those goals that I so dreamed of years ago.   Perhaps I will given in time, although the goal posts may have to change slightly.  For example, I always had dreams of travelling to Italy, with friends, and although this dream is set to come true next year when I go on my cruise, I am not attending with friends but instead with parents as with my condition I will need looking after if and when flares occur during the holiday.

I am sure that my values have changed also; living with a chronic illness, you realise what really is important in life, and all those little mundane things that once seemed really important, don’t seem to all that important anymore.  I would like to think living with a long-term health condition and disability has made me more caring towards others and as a result am less judgemental and more tolerant towards others.

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