(Air1 Closer Look) -- The doctor called. Your disease has a name. It can be treated, but it cannot be cured. Your life becomes a swirl of doctors and pills. Finances suffer. Even your faith takes a hit. You likely feel very alone, as loved ones can be the last to accept the diagnosis.
“It can be very isolating when no one really gets it,” says Susan Rodriguez at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. As a licensed clinical social worker, she works with patients who experience emotional pain caused by their debilitating physical condition. “They feel like they’re being looked at as lazy, not wanting to work, saying ‘my family thinks I just wanna be home all day,’ she explains, “but many are licensed, they hold degrees...they have contributed to society and they want to continue doing that.”
To ease that loneliness and distress, Rodriguez recommends involving loved ones in as many doctor visits and conference calls about therapies and treatments as possible. “They need to hear that guidance from the medical professional…also showing the proof of what their condition is.”
But having family or friends understand isn’t the ultimate goal, says Pamela Piquette of Chronic Joy Ministry. “If we’re honest we really don’t want them to, because that would mean they’re sick too.” Her cure for that gap is to lean into God and His promises of comfort. Her ministry supports people with tools like bible-based studies specific to your circumstances, and offering alternate serving ideas for building community. “Our tools grew from our own understanding of what it means to lose hope -- and to no longer serve in ways we once loved.”
“God is walking with us in our illness,” Piquette continues. “He’s walking with us when our friends and family don’t believe that I’m too tired, I can’t, and I have to say ‘no’ again. That’s something we hang on to.”
Living each moment and doing whatever is possible is key to thriving despite chronic diagnosis. “Each of us, including those with illness have God-given gifts,” and looking beyond the cures and treatment plans to embrace the truth is key.
“Acceptance opens the door for our faith to grow.”