Thursday, September 15, 2011

Oh, let's put the patient in charge of communication

People coping with cancer, or any serious medical diagnosis, need to be the ones in charge of their communication. Some people want to talk about it, some people don't, some people need space from time to time. Whatever their choice is, let them make it.

My blog here is my  way of coping and talking. I get to talk about what I want when I want. If I don't feel like talking about my latest oncologist appointment, I just don't write about it (even if it was fine).  Sometimes its not that there is nothing newsworthy but it also can be we just don't feel like rehashing the latest bump in the medical roller coaster.

If you know someone dealing with some fun medical diagnosis, it is not okay to call them  up and grill them on what is going on with their health regularly. You may think you are just calling to ask how their latest appointment went but the ball is in the patient's court to talk about the details or not. If the patient says it went fine and changes the subject, let it lie. Also, if they have a doctor appointment or some medical adventure, it is okay to call them and see how it went once. But it is not okay to call for daily updates on how they are feeling.

Sometimes every conversation becomes a rehashing and another trip on the medical roller coaster that we just want to pretend didn't happen/forget about.

I have friends that when they hear about a little medical adventure and they then call daily after to see how I am doing until I finally say its healed/done with/whatever. It makes me just switch to the 'its healed' even when it isn't just so I stop having to answer the questions. I don't need that many phone calls. It makes me not want to talk about things. It makes me feel nagged sometimes.

If a patient doesn't want to talk about something, they may say they don't or they may politely change the subject. Take the hint and let the topic go. However on the other hand, if they clearly do want to talk about things, it is wrong to shut them off, or to tell them they'll be fine because your cousin's neighbor's hair dresser's dog walker's uncle survived cancer 40 years ago and was fine until he was hit by a truck.

Let the patient be in control. Communication is one of the few things on the cancer roller coaster they can control so let them.

1 comment:

Debbi said...

I sooo see what your saying
I have 7-8 appointments /tests/ surgeries over the next 10 days or so.
Will I LOVE that everyone cares and loves me
I already don't feel like talking about every little appointment.
Thats whats great about our blogs, huh?
We put it out there, if we want...If not we just live it.
Debbi