What is a chronic condition? What does it mean to be a lifetime patient?
- long-lasting, persistent, difficult to eradicate, ceaseless, long-term, unending
The word chronic describes a portion of what it means to have a chronic condition but it doesn't truly capture "lifetime patient status." Not only is it a status but it is a state of mind that can easily consume you if you're not careful. The list below includes some of the thoughts that frighten those who have recently entered "lifetime patient status."
1. "SO I'M GOING TO HAVE THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?"
Many of us are used to getting colds that we'll get over in a week or having a headache that can be cured by taking Motrin. Chronic conditions, however, are usually life long and having a physician explain that to you is probably equivalent to swallowing about 7 Motrin pills at once. IT'S HARD. I spent over one year trying to accept the fact that I actually had a disease and even longer accepting the fact that it wasn't going anywhere.
2. "WHAT WILL OTHERS THINK OF ME?"
This totally depends on what kind of condition you have but lifetime patients do face judgment from others. No matter how normal you appear, there will be folks who can't help but look at you differently.
3. "HOW WILL IT AFFECT MY PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?"
I have plans! How will I do the things I want to do? This was one of my biggest fears. When I was diagnosed, my plan was to attend medical school. How was I going to study if I was dizzy ? How was I going to get through rotations if I was randomly collapsing? How was I going to be someone's doctor if I couldn't hold it together? These questions kept me up at night for months.
4. "I HAVE TO TAKE MEDICATION ALL OF THE TIME?"
This was a major struggle for me, especially with medications that required frequent administration. Just when you think you're feeling better, you remember that you have to take your pills or your shot and you're reminded of your lifetime patient status.
5. "WAIT, SO I REALLY HAVE THIS? LIKE FOREVER? FOR REAL?"
Yes, yes and yes! This is definitely the hardest pill to swallow. An illness crash landed into your life and is here to stay. For younger patients especially, it's difficult to deal with this because we are in our prime! It is just important to remember that lifetime patient status is all about what you make it. I decided to make it my own and I do it WELL if I do say so myself. :-)
UNTIL NEXT TIME FEARLESS READERS! STAY TUNED!