Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On Coping With Difficult Illnesses

Sometimes your colleagues in medicine say it best. Kudos to Dr. Benjamin Brewer in this article from the Wall Street Journal today. My wife and I believe that the attitude one develops after being diagnosed with a difficult disease is important, and that an upbeat attitude can be helpful at times. Not that this attitude will necessarily improve outcomes as Dr. Brewer confirms, but rather in building community with others in a time of crisis. I suppose it's this realization that inspired our website, Medtees.com, that makes t-shirts geared to people with difficult or chronic diseases. Socialization and support are important for the psychological, spiritual, and physical needs people encounter in their journey with their disease. Our testimonial page has lots of wonderful people who have generously shared their inspiring stories with us. Yet we don't offer these shirts in hospital gift shops. Why? Because when the initial diagnosis is made (often in a hospital) it just wouldn't be appropriate to offer them there. People need time to digest the diagnosis and grieve. And there are times when people don't want others to worry, help them, or console them. Loved ones need to appreciate and respect these desires just as well. But after the dust settles and one is capable of comprehending the myriad of issues and potential life style changes that their new diagnosis imposes, perhaps a simple smile or working to advocate on behalf to others with a similar predicament can help people cope or, even better, help someone else.


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