Maybe you felt something was wrong for a long time. Or, perhaps you didn’t give your symptoms another thought and never suspected anything to be worried about. Everyone has a different experience. But it is almost always a shock when you hear those words: “This is serious”.
One of your first considerations should be to get a second opinion. No matter how certain your diagnosis is, always consult with another physician to confirm the results, your status and your options. Your best bet, if possible, is to see a specialist in the area of your illness. They will have the top resources and information for you.
Learn as much as you can about the condition. Knowledge is the key to keeping a sense of control over your life and health. Although your illness may be unpredictable, knowing what to expect and how to handle it gives you the resources you need to maintain as much equilibrium as possible.
Make sure you have a doctor you like and trust. With a serious illness, you are in for the long haul. The best care is obtained when you are in a partnership with your physician.
Assess your life situation. Simplify as much as possible in order to reduce your stress level. Prioritize the things you love to the top and put other things on the back burner. Life is too short not to enjoy it.
Talk with your family and friends about your diagnosis and what it means to your relationships. Explain to your significant other and your children that you will need their help and support as well as their love and understanding. Help your friends to know how your illness may impact your activities, how you may have to take it slower. Ask for patience. And be patient with yourself as well.
Ask for help when you need it. Pushing yourself will just make you sick.
If you are having a hard time coping, if you feel depressed or hopeless or overwhelmed, there is help. A therapist can provide a sounding board and encouragement. A support group for your illness could be helpful. Reach out to them for free literature and get your name on their mailing list for info on activities and programs.
Explore some of the on-line discussion forums. You can get some interesting perspectives as well as advice for the newly diagnosed.
Keep a sense of humor. Being sick stinks, there is no two ways about it. But that is only part of who you are. You are still the smart, loved, competent person you always were. Try to focus on the many wonderful things about you and realize all those attributes are going to help you cope with this crummy curve that has been thrown at you.