As a follow up to my earlier post for Friends of Sick People, here's a post for my advice for people who are sick.
As a patient with an icky medical diagnosis, you need to remember the most important person you need to take care of is you. I know you love your children, spouse/partner, and other people close to you but you need to focus on you for a bit. You will need more rest and care than usual. You will spend a lot more time at doctors and other appointments. Any time when you are not at work you will probably be focused on your (lack of ) health. Nap time!
You may find the need to set some rules and requests for other people. You are not being rude, you are letting other people know how they can best help you. You need to rest and take care of yourself, go to doctor appointments (and then recover from them).
Personally I decided I needed to limit social visits and phone calls. Newly diagnosed with cancer, and a cascade of additional medical issues, I decided I was not going to answer a thousand phone calls, texts, and emails asking the same (damn) questions and decided I would provide information for others in my blog. If anyone wanted to know how I was doing, they need to read my blog (unless you are my parents, they are allowed to ask me questions or my husband who went with me to all important appointments). If people wanted to come over, their visit had to be short.
People often want to be helpful but are unsure how they can help. If someone says anything about any kind of help, you can give them concrete ideas on what you need. A casserole for dinner? Help with laundry? Do you need someone to help get your children to school on some days or maybe even getting you to the doctor?
And its not just the physical issues but also your emotional self. At my second cancer diagnosis I decided I needed emotional support and joined a support group before my second surgery. I wasn't going to let cancer suck any more enjoyment out of my life.
If you feel you need more emotional support, start with your doctor or a social worker at your local hospital. They will have access to information on where you can find help. In addition, look for local support groups through your church or local support centers. And the stress? I'm not going there.
It is important to remember that the most important person, emotionally and physically, is the one with the ailment. Don't forget!