Updated: Feb 18, 2019
There it is. Three words. That’s it.
It only takes three words and one second of your time to show support to a friend, family member or patient who is chronically ill.
It’s so easy. Yet it’s taboo.
As you know, my experience at Mayo was great. I am usually more afraid of sharing my story with a new doctor and the way he or she will react than the actual issue of what brought me to their office in the first place. While the majority of my experiences have been good, I have had some very bad experiences with health personnel. I mean, I think we all have. It happens. We are human. We have bad days. Sometimes we bring our home life to work with us and vice versa.
We depend on these people to comfort us and get us through whatever it is we are dealing with so when they make you uncomfortable it can be the worst feeling in the world. At Mayo, that didn’t happen. Not once.
The same person that checked me into each clinic, checked me out and scheduled all my other appointments. That is one less person. One less chance of relaying inaccurate information. I never had a nurse in the mix for information to get lost in translation. I saw only the doctor; they collected and analyzed all the information.
Every single doctor asked me what my goals were for treatment and which symptoms were most important to me to fix. I was constantly reminded that only I know my body best and what may be important to someone else may not be as important to me; it may not be limiting my life. Care and treatment was essentially in my hands.
My neurologist, Dr. Low, opened with this statement, “Your neurological tests were abnormal. It is very clear to me that you have autonomic dysfunction. If I had a magic wand and could take away one symptom….nope, let’s make that three symptoms. If I could take away three symptoms what would they be.” He cares about me and what I want my life to look like.
The best part of every appointment was the fact that I never once felt like the doctor didn’t believe me. They knew my symptoms were real and wanted to make sure that I knew they were there to help me. Some even went as far as saying, “I believe you”. To me, that has been the most powerful statement through everything.
If you have a family member or friend, or you are health personnel and see patient’s that are chronically ill, have an invisible illness, etc. and you don’t know how to reach out to them…say these three words.
“I BELIEVE YOU” That’s it. That’s all it takes.
To those of you out there who are reading this and have an illness/disability… I believe you. I believe your illness and symptoms are very real. I believe you when you say some days are miserable and other days are beautiful. I know it hurts when those around you don't get it. I know it hurts when they don’t reach out and ask how your’e doing. I too, want to crawl in a hole in the wall and bundle up with heavy blankets rather than explain myself to people who don’t understand my day to day. I too, want to scream into my pillow when people act like my illness doesn’t exist. I get it. I believe you.
Remember, "Count your Rainbows, not your Thunderstorms!"
xoxo Kirsten 💕