Posts Tagged ‘Advice’

Those People

August 19, 2009

Some things just **** you off.

Duncan Cross noted this on his blog, and somehow he didn’t go postal. And at first I was thinking that it couldn’t be true; somehow Duncan had misread, misinterpreted, or maybe was just having an officially certified 100% BAD DAY. So I clicked the link and checked it out for myself.

Thank goodness I don’t have any blood pressure problems.

There’s an “advice column” on, the online presence of The Boston Globe. Seems fairly harmless; I mean, how many of us glance at Dear Abby while we’re reading the paper in the morning?

But the letter in the August 5th column torked me off – and a lot of other people, I bet. Here’s how it went:

My boyfriend has always had health problems, but a little over a year ago, things really got bad. There’s no need to go into the details, but suffice it to say, it isn’t going to go away, and it has impacted every aspect of our lives. Because it is often difficult for him to move around, we started going out less and less. Our home became less social as he didn’t like having people over as much. His interests narrowed, his mood soured (he’s being treated for depression). Our sex life dried up. I took it upon myself to do whatever I could to make life better for him; I have taken on more and more responsibilities; I physically take care of him; and I have been patient, accommodating and understanding as our lives changed…

…I feel isolated, stuck, and sad, and have been fighting the urge to flee. I think he may suspect my feelings, because he is reminding me more frequently how he loves me and couldn’t go on without me. But I just don’t know. On the one hand, I have all the responsibilities of the relationship, and none of the emotional or physical joy that should come with it. I don’t think he is either willing or capable of living beyond the lifestyle we currently live. I’m 24 and I am terrified at the prospect that this is it, that this is going to be my life. On the other hand, he’s still my best friend, and I love him and deeply care for him. He’s in pain, both physically and emotionally, and he needs me. If I left, it would break his heart, and when I think about the reality of that, it absolutely shakes me.

What should I do? It’s been over a year, and I feel I have tried everything, and things are not getting any better. Am I a horrible person to be thinking about leaving him?

Quite a mess is brewing – sick boyfriend isn’t doing so well and he is withdrawing into himself. In a way it is understandable, we’re all vain to some point. If we get an illness that really decimates us, it’s natural to think “I don’t want anyone to see me like this,” and retreat into ourselves. And that applies just as much to the person who gets blindsided by a bad case of the flu as it does to someone with a Chronic Illness whose health slowly deteriorates.

But this isn’t what irritates me. Our advice columnist answers in a flippant style that completely misses the mark:

You’re allowed to leave. You’re 24. You didn’t sign up for this. I fear the longer you stay, the worse it will be when you bolt.

He’s your friend. You owe it to him to be honest. Tell him you’re not up for this. You can’t commit to this life, at least not as a romantic partner. You can explain that part of your decision is about age and place in life. I truly believe it’s not just his illness. You want to discover more of the world. You want to get to know yourself better. That’s what unmarried people do at your age. You will feel like a jerk — but being a jerk is better than being a martyr.

This “advice” really grates on my nerves – You’re 24, it’s much too early for you to show any character! If the friend wants out, say so. And then she should grab her stuff and go. It will hurt for a little while, but it will be best in the long run… because the guy will know that she’ll cut and run at the first hint of trouble. At least if you’re up front with him he’ll know who isn’t on his side.

Duncan highlights the fact that the advice columnist and the young woman both miss important points: The young man is still working – a part of the letter that I did not highlight mentions the fact that both of them work – and he’s probably hanging on to his job by his fingernails in this terrible economy. He’s working when he really should be at home taking care of himself, and it is taking a lot out of him. Also if he’s taking medication for depression, his libido has probably dried up. He’s not in the mood, he’s exhausted, and although he’s working he knows that because of the economy or his health that job could vanish. It’s little wonder that things aren’t all Champagne and Roses right now.

But the best is yet to come! Our advice maven offers this gem:

Remind him of all of the other people in his life who care for him. Tell him to seek out as much support as possible. Dealing with a chronic is miserable. He needs to learn to cope without alienating everyone he loves.

A chronic. Not a person, but a chronic. A thing. With six words, she strips millions of people of their basic humanity and throws them into a nameless, faceless group. A group that makes you miserable when you have to deal with them.

Drop the word chronic and substitute nearly any word that identifies an ethnic or a social  group, and you’ll have a fight on your hands. Try using the word Italian, Jew, Republican, Democrat, Yankee, or Redneck in that sentence and people will start screaming. If you really want people to hate your guts, throw the N word in there.

But use the sentence as it is written and there is nary a peep. Apparently it’s still OK in certain circles to discriminate against those of us who are living our lives in spite of it all.

I’m not really upset at the female for wanting out of the situation, she’s young and probably doesn’t know any better. But our advice columnist – she has no compassion, no human decency, and I doubt she understands the inner strength that we sometimes have to draw from just to keep going. And she apparently doesn’t care.

After all, those people are just chronics.


September 14, 2008

A friend of mine says his mother is the worst type of hypochondriac… she thinks everyone else is sick! She’s feeling fine, but you… you don’t look so good! And needless to say, she has a grand old time when I’m visiting my friend.

Are you ok?

Are you SURE?

Do you want to lie down? (If I did, she’d let my lie down on her best couch, which nobody does. My friend is a bit jealous!)

But she’s harmless. In fact, she even admits that she gets “a little wound up” when I come over, and that I should really just ignore her when she’s like that. Everything is good between us.

But I have another friend – acquaintance, actually – that is so negative that I actually refer to him as “Toxic”. He is toxic, because he will poison your mood, ruin your day, and actually get inside your head and make you start worrying about yourself. I know he’s like that and he can still get under my skin!

The last time I spoke to him, it went something like this:

Toxic: “You don’t feel good, do you?” (No hello, how ya doing, or anything like that)

Me: “Huh? I’m feeling fine.”

Toxic: “I don’t think so… I can tell, you know. You look like you’re barely making it today.”

Me: “I walked three miles this morning!”

Toxic: “You really shouldn’t, it’s bad for you. That’s especially bad for your weak heart.”

FOR THE RECORD: Almost all forms of walking are good for you, provided they are done with a doctor’s approval and you show enough common sense to stop when you get tired. I even know a young lady with Pulmonary Atresia (Same type of heart defect that I have, but affecting a different valve) who jogs fairly often.

The best thing you can do when you are around a toxic person is to find someplace else to be. If this person does not know you have a chronic illness, just keep that fact to yourself. If they find out, suddenly they will be your new best friend. And they will be full of (useless) advice.

The Student Government Association of my college would sponsor Movie Night about once a month. The curtains in the cafeteria were pulled, a screen set up, and a movie (usually a western or a black and white classic) was shown. Admission was a dollar and the popcorn and drinks were free.

Fred was a pretty good fellow, but he tended to have his nose in your business if you let him. I had just gotten settled into my seat when Fred tapped me on my shoulder and said “I need your help.”

“What’s up?”

“I can’t keep my eye on you all the time, so I need you to promise me that you won’t eat too much popcorn tonight. It’s bad for you.”

Say what? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. At that time I had no dietary restrictions; I wasn’t even on any medication, other than a vitamin every day. And when was I placed under observation?

“No,” I said, simply. “I don’t need anyone keeping `an eye on me.'”

“Dr. Hunter told me -” Fred said. So there won’t be any confusion, Dr. Hunter was the new President of the college, not a medical doctor. What Fred apparently didn’t know was that Dr. Hunter had arrived before his residence was ready, and had spent about three weeks during Summer Sessions living in the dorms. He had even eaten his meals in the cafeteria with the students. I had seen him every day, spoken to him often, and my heart defect had already been discussed.

“No, he didn’t.” I finished for him. I turned on one heel and returned to my seat. But a moment later I left, too angry to enjoy the show. At the risk of making a bad rhyme, I had let Fred mess with my head.

Separate yourself from Toxic people as quickly as possible. Do it nicely, but if you must be a little bit rude then be rude. I’m already a little bit paranoid about my health – anyone with a chronic health problem is – and I’m not going to let anyone force me into worrying more.

And worrying more than you need to really isn’t good for you! So take my advice…


August 3, 2008

In the words of Weird Al Yankovic:

Livin’ with a hernia, all the time, such aggravation;

Livin’ with a hernia, gonna be my ruination!

Right now I am not living the good life. I’ve had this hernia for years, but it only bothered me once a month, if that often. And it didn’t hurt very much. My doctor uses a 0 to 10 pain scale, with 0 being “I’m not hurting at all!” and 10 being “I’m dying here, Doc!” In the good old days when this thing flared up, it rarely got to a 4 on the pain scale. Now we’re up to 7+.

I discussed this with my Cardiologist when I first felt the symptoms. “Let’s delay any surgical repair,” was the advice I received, “If you think you can live with it.” Surgery usually isn’t the best option for me because of my low blood oxygenation level. The average heart healthy person on the street is going to have an oxygenation rate of 95% or better. Because of my defective heart, mine is about 80%. An Anesthesiologist is not going to view me as a walk in the park. I want to talk to him before any operation, to make sure he knows I’m not so easy to deal with. The problem is, you meet some Anesthesiologists in the operating room, when he walks in and says “Hi, I’m Dr. Jones, I’ll be in charge of putting you to sleep. Now breathe into this mask…” That’s not going to fly with me.

When you have a CHD, you need to be prepared to take an active role in your health care. This goes beyond following the doctor’s advice when he says to watch your weight. You’ve got to keep your head in the game, and when you don’t understand, you have to ask questions. What exactly is the problem with my heart? What was done during my surgical procedures? How did it change how my heart works? What should I look for in the future that may be a sign of a problem. And on and on.

Most doctors are going to be very happy to sit down with you and answer your questions. Occasionally you will find one with an “What’s with all the questions? I’m your doctor, just trust me!” attitude. If you find yourself sitting in his examining room, my advice to you is to leave. Gather what is yours and go. It’s not that you don’t trust your doctor, but you are placing your health and your life in his/her hands. Blindly following the doctors instructions without knowing anything else is not smart, especially if you have a serious health problem.

I blame Dr. Alfred Blalock for getting me into this mess. Yes, he died two years before I was born, but this, in a way, is his fault. I saw a copy of The Papers of Dr. Alfred Blalock online for a very low price, so I figured I would buy it and then resell it on eBay, with the proceeds going to the ACHA. I placed my order, time passed, and soon there was this box on my front porch. It didn’t look that heavy…. but I found out that The Papers of Dr. Alfred Blalock is two hardcover 1000 page very heavy volumes!