Sick & Tired : Chapter 2

“So What’s Your Problem?”

Preparation: Read Chapter Two this week.
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

This has been jumbled week so far. I started writing this post on schedule on Monday. Before I could publish it, I was invited to go see “Lion King” with my 14 year old granddaughter. Well, of course I went with her! How special to spend time with my sweet girl.

On Tuesday morning I intended to finish the post. It didn’t happen. My husband Jim was experiencing severe vertigo and had to go to ER, where we spent the day while he underwent multiple blood tests and two CT scans before being admitted to the hospital.

An amazing thing happened while Jim was in ER. Our son’s youth group loaded up in vans and drove to the hospital parking lot, where they held a prayer group just for Jim’s recovery! We couldn’t see them, but we were sent pictures of the teens. Talk about a tear-jerker! Teens praying for their leader’s dad…be still, my heart.

Because of Jim’s concurrent health issues, there was a question whether the vertigo was caused by his extremely slow heart rate, vestibular problems, or occluded tiny veins in the brain. There was a whole team of medical professionals working on his case. It was finally concluded that crystals in his ear canal were in the wrong place. The neurologist performed the “Epley” maneuver on Jim, and he was due to come home on Wednesday afternoon.

Well, it’s Thursday afternoon now, and he’s still in the hospital. I came home exhausted last night, and am staying home this morning until his discharge from the hospital is finalized, and I will go pick him up.

Lots of praises this week:
Thank You, Lord, for providing excellent medical care.
Thank You for good insurance. This is a HUGE praise!
Thank You that Jim’s extreme vertigo could be relieved.
Thank You for all the prayers offered on his behalf. We are blessed!

So my goal today is to finish writing this post and finally get it published so you can read and respond to this week’s group study questions.

Now to the lesson at hand:

Have you ever been asked “So What’s Your Problem?” If you have chronic illness with many invisible symptoms, sometimes people can ask that question with blunt skepticism. Even when asked with genuine concern, we may flounder in the way we answer.
Do we start at the beginning and list our historic episodes of symptoms?
Do we state our diagnosis and then scramble to give an explanation?
What if we have a cluster of chronic illnesses?
How can we possibly explain that?

Yep. It’s hard. So what I usually say is something innocuous, like “I have MS, but God has been good to me. I’m doing well.” That’s my short answer. It doesn’t completely answer the bigger question of “What’s your problem?” but at least it doesn’t take a lot of time.

Kimberly Rae offers some excellent suggestions for ways to condense our response to phrases that are useful, short, and informative. Here are her suggestions:

Let’s think through how to fix this dilemma…To do that we need to start with the big initial question: What is your health problem?

You pick which option you like best and fill in the blanks:

I have a disease called __________. Than means my __________ doesn’t work right, so I have to __________.

I have a condition that affects my __________. This causes me problems with my __________ and I can’t __________ anymore.”

I struggle with having to give up __________. I’ve had this condition for __________, so I’ve learned to __________.

I really miss being able to __________, but I’ve learned to ask for help with __________, and that has been a blessing because__________.

Wow, this is helpful! Have you every tried to summarize your chronic illness conditions in this way? I haven’t either, but this week I intend to do so. I hope you will share your summary with us.

Did you find Kimberly’s suggestions helpful?

Group Study Questions

To make reading easier, kindly refer to the question number when commenting.

1. Do you feel overwhelmed when people ask you about your condition?


2. Do you catch yourself telling them a long story that leaves you frustrated and then confused?


3. Do you feel like people don’t take your condition seriously because it isn’t diagnosed yet, or is an “invisible” illness like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue?


4. Do you ever think people are picking up on your own insecurities about your illness?


5. If you could communicate with confidence, do you think that would change how people respond?


Activity

Fill in the blanks in the sentences in this chapter, then type and print the sentences that express you best. Put them on a 3×5 card and carry them around until you memorize exactly how you want to present your illness to others.

One thought on “Sick & Tired : Chapter 2

  1. 1. I don’t feel overwhelmed when people ask me about my condition. It’s pretty obvious that I have trouble walking, since I use an arm crutch, walker, or scooter. I simply tell them that I have Multiple Sclerosis. Usually they don’t inquire further. Occasionally I need to listen while they tell me of friends or relatives who have MS.

    2. I don’t bother with a long story. I usually keep to the main fact of MS. I’m in the process of using Kimberly Rae’s suggestions for summarizing my condition.

    3. I think most people simply accept the fact that I have trouble walking. My assistive aids are enough to make that symptom obvious. What they don’t see is the exhaustion, brain fog, double vision, macular degeneration, shoulder pain, costochondritis, back pain, incontinence, knee pain, neuropathy, migraines, insomnia, hyperacusis, and cognitive loss…to name a few invisible symptoms.

    4. I have lived with MS symptoms for over 39 years. At this point I probably respond with enough confidence that people are not generally aware of my insecurities.

    5. I do like having a guide for a response that can satisfy immediate questions. In the activity below, I chose Kimberly Rae’s second suggested response. I think it will be helpful. It’s short and gives a few details. If a person is interested in knowing more, I can direct them to my blog posts on our companion website hopekeepersindy.com.

    ACTIVITY: Here is my chronic illness summary, based on Kimberly Rae’s suggestion above:
    “What is My Health Problem?” (My words are in caps.)
    I have MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, a condition that affects my BRAIN AND NERVES. This causes me problems with IMBALANCE AND MUSCLE WEAKNESS, and I can’t WALK MORE THAN A FEW YARDS anymore.

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