Dealing with an illness, regardless if it’s your own illness or a loved one’s, can be emotionally draining. The fear of the unknown, new doctors, side effects from medication(s)…it’s a lot. Dealing with an illness can also be overwhelming. There are so many things that need to be done and done fast. For example: setting up appointments, getting the appropriate referrals, making arrangements with your employer, etc..
When my husband first got sick, aside from being scared (actually, it was more like petrified), I was, overwhelmed. I quickly realized that I needed to find ways to help alleviate some of the stress before I became so overwhelmed I’d shut down. I know, that sounds a bit over-the-top-dramatic. But it’s the truth. The pressure to do it all and do it all right was intense.
At first, I made a dozen or so changes. Some worked, some didn’t. What really worked, though, were the following three simple tips many people who have been through this before me advised me to do:
Always leave plenty of time to get to appointments
I’ve been at this a long time and have yet to find a medical center or hospital that had plenty of parking. A lot of stress in the early days was caused by the fear of being late. So, even though K and I live relatively close to the area his doctors and hospital are located, we would leave the house at least an hour (at least!) before his appointment. This would leave us time to find parking, walk to the appropriate building, and find the exact location room we were going. Once we got used to the hospital and medical center, we shaved some of that extra time off. But in the beginning, knowing that we would have time to get to where we were supposed to be and breathe for a minute before being called in relieved a ton of stress.
There are essentials that you should always have with you. I’ll talk about what these essentials are in a future post. For now, I’ll emphasis the importance of finding a system that holds up well in a purse or backpack and that allows for easy access.
Ask for Help
This one is really hard. The truth of the matter, though, is that I just can’t do it all. Yet, I refused a lot of help in the beginning. Eventually, after much coaxing and reminding that my friends and family really wanted to help, I asked. At first I asked for help with little tasks like dropping some things off at the dry cleaners and letting the cable guy in when I broke the wifi. I realize that my next statement is going to sound cliche, but…it was amazing how much having help for those small tasks really helped me stay calm and allowed me to focus on what I really needed to focus on.
These three tips may seem small, but when it feels like your whole world is falling apart, they’re huge.
I am not a healthcare professional. I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. I am not a social worker. I am simply sharing the information learned from my own experience. Your experience is going to be different.
By reading, and if you chose, utilizing any information, tips, etc. found on On Caring and Grief you are doing so at your own risk.
Opinions expressed here on On Caring and Grief are mine and mine alone.