Medical diagnoses are always going to be charged with emotion. From the final diagnosis of a condition you were sure you had, allowing you to finally get treatment, to the simple diagnosis of a wholly benign condition when you were worried it was something serious. Whatever the case, you will go through a lot of feelings as the doctor begins to speak and gives you the health information you have been waiting to hear.
Sometimes, it will be bad news. For some of us, this is simply what we expect. Either because we tend towards pessimism or we’ve had indications from the way our body is reacting to a condition, it would not be accurate to say bad news from a doctor is always shocking. It is, however, always life-changing, and no matter what the news is we need to be ready for the ways in which it will change our lives. The following are a few things you will have to consider should you find yourself in that situation.
“What’s my prognosis?”
A life-changing diagnosis isn’t always terminal – it can relate to a condition which will simply affect the choices you have in your future. But whether you’ve been told that you have a condition that will shorten your life, or one which will affect your mobility, or anything else, there are things you need to know:
- How long do you have before things get particularly difficult?
- What signs, symptoms and stages do you need to look out for?
- What impact will treatment have if it starts right now?
You are about to embark upon some of the most serious and crucial conversations of your life: it’s essential to be as informed as possible when you have those conversations.
“What can I do about this?”
There are people who have received terminal cancer diagnoses, who live today cancer-free. Some people who have been told they will need to retire from their job have been able to go back to work. And thanks to medical exoskeletons, some people who heard that they would never walk again are doing just that. These good news stories do not mean that everyone getting a harrowing diagnosis will have the same fortune. It is, however, important to know everything about your options. You may need to ask about potential drug trials or experimental therapies, and keep an open mind while staying realistic about your prospects.
“What do I need to do now?”
When you receive a life-changing diagnosis, after a period of time to collect yourself you’re going to need to consider what those changes are. If you have limited time left, you may need to think about matters of wills and probate, and making sure your loved ones are in a place to deal with the future. If you’re going to need assistance with aspects of life, you’ll need to figure out how this assistance will be paid for and who will provide it. And regardless of anything else, you’ll need to tell your loved ones. Those can be hard conversations to have, and it’s OK to have them in your own time – but don’t hold off for fear of upsetting anyone, because they’ll be all the more upset if the worst happens and they didn’t know.
Receiving news you didn’t want to hear from a medical professional is always going to be hard and take some time to absorb. Once you’re aware of the worst, though, you can start to deal with it and look to take your next steps.
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