As a patient, positive support means everything. I know it has to me. Fortunately, many friends and family members provide the love and support I need to help me through the treatment. Like all patients know going through it, treatment can be challenging, difficult, bumpy and just plain depressing. When you’ve got family and friends there for you cheering you on it makes the journey far less arduous.
So, why then do people tell you the sad, dramatic and often scary stories of what has happened to someone else who has the same illness (or they think has the same illness!) as you do? I don’t know why, but they do. It seems these stories come to mind and before they’re aware of it, the story comes spewing out of their mouth. Whether the story is true, false or like the old game telephone, by the time you hear it the facts of the story have changed so many times it doesn’t even resemble the original account. If your Aunt Matilda brother’s uncle’s cousin (you get it) told you this story, you may want to consider the source and even more importantly, what impact the story is going to have on a patient. As I’ve said before, patients have enough “stuff” and questions going on in their own heads without any additional scary stuff increasing the volume.
Here’s what happened to me. Many years ago while I was having a great time at a wedding a friend told me her husband bled to death from the very same illness I had! Try to enjoy the wedding after that! Thankfully, I’ve not had the same issue, but I can tell you that story has been hard to forget, but I have realized it is not my story. Sadly, it belonged to the man who experienced it. But,once heard there it is. I realize people don’t mean to frighten you or wish you ill. They simply speak first – almost unconsciously – without grasping the impact their words have on patients. Well, those words have a very long half-life and are not easily forgotten.
Instead, why not choose uplifting words or stories to support those who need to hear them. Before telling those dramatic, worrisome stories to a patient, why not give some thought to how those words will be received. Words of love, support and oftentimes, no words at all are just what the doctor ordered.