Making life better in disadvantaged communities - our thoughts on everything - from Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
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Keep an eye out for the latest issue of Miniwakan Tiyospaye News, where we talk about dealing a disability diagnosis.
I don't have a disability, but when I was diagnosed with a medical condition, I think it was the one of the hardest things I have had to go through. First, I went through a period of anger, why me? Why not someone else? I go to church every Sunday, I am a normal, good person. I didn't want to talk about it with anyone and if I ever did, I would just play the entire thing off, act like it was no big deal, and underplay what the doctor had told me. I guess you could say that was denial, I just wanted to protect my family and friends from being upset and getting hurt, especially my mom. Then, I started to relax a little bit in other parts of my life. Stressing about the minor things, like my boyfriend not being able to meet me for dinner, just seemed so trivial. The phrase, "life is short", suddenly took on a new meaning. I did things that I would have never had the nerve to do in the past, like move across the country for no good reason except "I want to". It was definitely a pivotal point in my life, but now I realize the answer to "Why me?" Because I would have never been where I am now if it hadn't happened.
What are some of your experiences on dealing with a diagnosis?
When my husband died, I was feeling sorry for myself. I had three small children, worked hard to get an education and take care of my family, married the man I loved, did all the things you are supposed to do to have a good life and now my husband had this terrible accident and it was compounded by him having a genetic disease that one in a million people have. It was truly awful and those people who say, "It makes you a better person", well then I would have settled for being a worse person.
One day, I said, "Why me?" and my friend answered, "Why not you? Who else's husband should have died? That woman over there? How about that one?"
I agree with Jessica, though, your perspective on life will never be the same. As she said, I got a whole new appreciation for what was important and what was not. If my husband had lived, I would definitely be a different person than who I am now, and so would my children.
I understand the denial, too. Sometimes it can make you determined to prove the doctors wrong. I was injured in an accident when I was 17. Many times, I was told to quit competing, that I was not going to be able to walk by the time I was 40 if I did not stop and have a sedentary lifestyle. A diagnosis can be taken as a challenge or as an excuse to give up. Six operations later and after one heck of a lot of training, I won a world judo championships and I am still walking. This is NOT one of those "I am so great and inspirational stories". I truly understand why anyone in their right mind would give up. It HURTS when you have surgery and you are going through physical therapy. When you go back to your 'normal' activities, it HURTS. I didn't because I desperately wanted to compete, but I can certainly understand why people sit on the couch after an accident.
My niece is living here now and she commented, "Don't you people realize that when something hurts, you cry and you stop doing it."
The most important thing, I think, for people dealing with a diagnosis is to realize there are choices to be made and those are YOUR choices because it is YOUR life. For example, after surgery, I would take pain medication, because it HURT, hello! Other people think that is not right because you should be stronger than that, or you should have faith in God to heal you or it will make you addicted to drugs, or whatever. Me, I said, I have faith that God created the person who invented these pain pills. I took them, I felt better and I didn't feel any guilt about it either.
When dealing with a diagnosis, the best thing you can do is reach out to loved ones. I'm not sure if I could have gotten through what I did if I didn't have loved ones around me. My mom flies all the way across the country (which, for a woman who hadn't flown in 20 years till now, is a great feat) in order to come with me to my doctor's appts. Call me a baby, but I could not do it without her. Sometimes, you don't have to be strong.