Monday, February 23, 2015

How Do You React to a Bad Health Report?

By now, you've read last week's post about my most recent doctor's appointment.  And how I learned some less-than-awesome stuff about all the ways pregnancy can go wrong when you have a transplant.  I wasn't feeling so great afterwards, about myself or my situation, so I decided to eat a bunch of junk food when I returned to work after my appointment.

And that got me thinking about all the ways that people might react to a negative health report.  I've had plenty of negative health reports in my short life.  Off the top of my head, there was my diagnosis with FSGS; the news that I was rapidly heading toward kidney failure; then I found out my sister wouldn't be able to donate her kidney to me.  After that it was the news that I would have to postpone my honeymoon so that I could start dialysis.  Oh, and the news that my kidneys were f*#@ked up, yet again.  

So, I started thinking, how do I typically react to this bad news.  What's my M.O.? 

Junk food.  In all of these instances, junk food seems to be there in the end.  After hearing bad health news, it's almost like an alarm goes off in my head, shouting"Well, you couldn't control things by eating healthy!  Might as well have fun today and binge!"  I'm not kidding.  I literally binge. I eat my feelings, and it feels good.  After my first dialysis appointment, Ben took me to Krispy Kreme (Can I say that I just LOVE that man?).  I won't even lie and say eating junk food doesn't make me feel better, because it does.  

Free day.  If I don't have to go to work that day, I usually take the remaining daylight after my appointment to do whatever I want. It might be napping, watching Netflix or reality television for 3 hours, retail therapy.  Again, I won't even lie and say those things don't make me feel better, because they do.  

Talking to God.  I go to all of my doctors' appointments by myself.  Is that weird?  I ask because my mom always asks me if I need someone to go with me, or why I went by myself. I'm an adult now, so I CAN sign myself in at the doctor's office. I can see how it would be comforting to have someone with you after each appointment, especially when you have to hear bad news.  Save for my FSGS diagnosis, I've had to drive home by myself after each episode of bad news.  During the half hour drive back to work or my apartment I usually alternate between trying to drown out my thoughts with the radio, and dialoguing with God about what transpired.  I go through everything from "Whyyyyyy?" to "It'll all be OK right?"  then back to "WHYYYYYY?!"  and then "You know, the devil is a liar, God.  You have the last word.  The final say."  Then crying. Things like that.

Digging through my brain for scripture.  I think this is one of the best things about finally having a relationship with God. I read the Bible a lot more. And when you read the Bible more often, you have an opportunity to digest important verses.  And when you do that, it makes it easier to remember the promises that God has made to each and every one of us.  One that I've been thinking about lately..."He works ALL THINGS together for the good of those who love Him."  "ALL THINGS" is my favorite part I think, and it has significance after most doctors' appointments.  

Talking to Ben.  Ben doesn't come with me to my doctor appointments. So I give him the download afterward. Ben is one of two people (him and my dad) who doesn't A) say "I'm sorry" when I tell him about my health issues; or B) "That sucks."   It's not that those are terrible things to say to a sick person.  It's just that when other people say them to me, I'm reminded of how alone I am in my sickness. I'm reminded of how what is happening to me isn't happening to that person.  But Ben never says that. It might have something to do with the fact that we're married and that when something happens to me, it's happening to him also.  Ben and my dad are always so confident that things are going to be OK, and work out fine.  Ben and my dad are also the two people who don't panic when I tell them something.  Yes, I'm looking at you, mom.  But apparently that's that a "mom" thing that never goes away.  

Blog!  I've blogged nearly every negative health report that I've received over the past two years!  After I go through everything I've listed above, I usually feel calm enough to blog about my experience.  And over the past two years, blogging has become so therapeutic for me.  Typically, I blog about the experience within a few days or a week, depending on if I'm in the hospital or not.  Though, honestly, as soon as something happens to me, part of me wants to keep it to myself. And that's just fine. Privacy is an amazing awesome thing, and I try to keep as much of it as possible.  But something happens to me when I have that thought about hiding my experience.  The Holy Spirit nudges me and tells me to share it.  I started this blog to document what I've gone through over the past two years.  And God has used it as a space where somehow my unedited, misspelled words have inspired people and maybe even helped people. I want people who are experiencing chronic illness/kidney failure/transplant/disease/marriage etc, to know that you are not alone in your experience.  The Chinese say that "Out of the hottest fire comes the strongest steel."  We are walking through that blaze together. 

Anyhoo, how do you handle a negative health report?  Doritos? Cursing? Churching?  Let me know!