Coping With Illness

Illness has an uncanny way of interrupting our plans and we, at Milestones & Transitions, can help you make new plans.

Have you or a person you love been in your doctor’s office and “didn’t hear” a lot of what was said and “didn’t ask the right questions?‘’ We can say for sure that this is not an unusual reaction to hearing painful news or a threatening diagnosis. In such circumstances, many of us, understandably, put up defense mechanisms to protect ourselves against unbearable anxiety. And that’s a good thing. But in so doing, we block useful information from getting into our consciousness and we pause, or put on hold, our access to our logical thought, our unique ways of confronting our challenges, our typical ways of recognizing and solving our problems and our access to our strengths and resources.

It’s a little as if the bottom has fallen out of our “bag of tricks” representing our usual coping ability. We look on the floor and see the contents of our bag of tricks rolling around on the floor. What is the meaning of my diagnosis and which tricks will we need? Where are these tricks, are they damaged and can they still be used? Are our resources, financial, social and personal adequate to meet present and future needs arising from the diagnosis?

At such times it is usual for the person experiencing illness to receive extra love and support from family and friends. They visit, embrace us, minimize our diagnosis, tell us that our bag of tricks just has a little tear at the bottom, tell us that we will be as good as new in no time.

We feel good for the moment but then a glimpse of reality brings back the overwhelming questions and fears. We feel very loved but strangely alone. We will later understand that people who love us are protecting themselves as well as us from the anxiety around our illness.

Enter Milestones & Transitions:

Some fears are common to people facing illness, others are unique.

Together we explore and identify these fears against which you, and perhaps your loved ones, are so strongly defended. Because each of us is a unique individual, we help you identify your feelings and your fears which are blocking your access to logical thought and coping ability. Along with you, we “hear” what your medical team is saying and we “ask the right questions”. We continue to support you and enable you to keep removing the blocks which initially interfered with your judgement.

When, with the help of your medical team, we understand the implications of your illness, we can identify your needs. With continuing professional support, we look together at your bag of tricks, some of which will need realignment to fit your current situation. And we will look at your other personal, social and financial resources. We will work together to achieve clear, honest communication among your family members and we will produce an assessment which will take into account all factors relevant to your situation. Where there are gaps in service, we will offer suggestions for your consideration.

Our goal is to assist you in making the most of your time and place and to resume pleasurable activities that are meaningful to you.

When next I write, I will share how it all worked for me during my journey of recovery from breast cancer.

By: Betty Ann Streeter, MSW, Dip.Adv.S.W., RSW
July 11, 2018