I remember receiving my first diagnosis. I never imagined then, at 18, that there would be a time when I would look back at just one diagnosis in rose-tinted nostalgia. Perhaps it’s better that way, I have a laundry list of diagnoses now, but none of the labels constrain me. The disabilities are just the footnotes, I am the adventure story. But I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s not where I began.
In the sterile office, with fading winter light slanting in through the blinds, and the grey institutional carpet under my red ballet shoes, I heard the doctor say those words ‘no cure’. I took the wound to my chest, it stopped my breath and my world.
I think of what the doctors said, white coat M.Deities who told me never. That day of never smells of fear and the February grey, dim despondency of hope.
Getting a diagnosis can be a blossoming of relief because it may pave the way for explantations, answers and solutions.
But for some of us it is the broken label from which we struggle to shake free.
No matter whether you welcome it or not, you change in that moment.
It is the moment which changes your life. Sometimes it feels like it is the moment which ends it. The life you knew is gone, you are post diagnosis, AD, your own new millennium.
There is hope and possibilities, but if you have been through that moment in the doctor’s office, the hospital bed or with the test results on the desk between you, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
You need help and support during a diagnosis, heck, you need a posse of angels.
Want to be someone’s angel?
That’s what we decided to do after a particularly difficult diagnosis when I was 22. We took the pain, and fear and transmogrified it into boxes of love and healing goodies, for all those struggling with health challenges and life crises just like me. Most probably just like you. This is from where Healing Boxes CIC, our registered non-profit social enterprise grew, and I want to share how you can transform your pain and grow your angel wings wider.
To share the reality for me, I am sitting, writing in pain and facing new health challenges now. I’m sitting here with this pain and reaching out from my tender chest, from my vulnerable heart to yours. I don’t know what’s happening in my body. I think perhaps something else has come up for healing, but I don’t know. Yes, it’s scary for me too. I don’t want another diagnosis either, I’d rather not have something else I need to deal well with.
But I know we can do this together. We can help make the painful process of diagnosis easier for everyone.
Here’s the plan (and how to earn your angel wings):
- Listen – people’s thoughts and experiences might be difficult, but we can listen and allow them the space to express themselves. Some people want to search for a cure, others need to focus on their happiness. Allow them their choices. They are probably being swept up in a sea of emotions. Validate, accept and support whatever they express. Acceptance, not instruction is needed right now. They might want to retreat or need to reach out. Be there, whichever.
- Offering Practical Support – instead of saying “Let me know if there is anything I can do,” it is easier for everyone if you make some suggestions. This allows your loved one to see the level of help you are offering. It saves them trying to think up tasks you could help with and stops you being asked to offer support beyond your means.
What could you help with?
- Picking up food for them when you go shopping
- Collecting prescriptions
- Accompanying them to hospital appointments and taking notes on medical terms, treatment options, doctors names, recommended books, prescriptions, appointment times, dates, directions and advice. Or prompt them to record the appointment with the dictaphone app on your smart phone
- Getting them some books from the library
- Making them up a box of treats and delivering it to them in person (without mentioning the fact that they are still in their pyjamas at 4pm or the stack of washing up next to the sink)
- Sending them lovely stories you read in the paper
- Drawing them a warm bath
- Suggesting you switch your weekly cinema date to a film at their house, or writing them a chatty friendly email without expecting a reply, in other words, making friendship accessible. Checking in with what they need around that, maybe they don’t want anything to change, or maybe they’d welcome the switch, but we can always offer
- Babysitting the baby, dog or similar so they can rest
- Making double the food and taking one half to their house every other day
- Taking them flowers already in a vase or jar so they don’t have to dig one out of the cupboard
- Giving them a pedicure with hot pink polish so their toes at least make them smile
- Drop Some Love – we are creating a treasure chest of support so when someone is newly diagnosed we can kit them out.
You can help by:
- Sending loving emails of support, quotes and promises of positive energy and prayers to grace AT healing-boxes.com. We will pull out these messages of love to send to those in need.
- Making and posting cards, notes, affirmations and goodies for us to pass on to healing hearts. Send to Healing Boxes CIC, 49 Station Road, Polegate, East Sussex, BN26 6EA, UK
- Donating. For every $20 you donate this month, we will send a Healing Box to someone newly diagnosed and in need. You can send donations via this button or through Paypal to grace AT healing-boxes.com
- I will match every donation with copies of my ebooks and guides on how to live well with chronic pain and illness.
Just by reading this, just by being in this loving space, I believe that you are healing your own heart and mine. Thank you. Let’s take a moment to send love to all those whose hearts hurt and are in need of healing today and then pick your action from the lists above and make it happen angel-face!
*Originally published on Kind Over Matter.
Image courtesy of Anne Worner.