Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Diedre on the Politics of Health
I see that your last piece of advice was many months ago, in fact it was about 8 months ago to be precise! So I thought I’d pick your brains for some stored wisdom and so here I am writing in.
My friend is not well.. she’s got some continuing health problems and I wanted to know what I can do for her to best support her. Any advice?
Well my dear, thanks a lot for your email honey pie!
I do say it has been a long time since my last query (and only one).. and it’s a kind thing you keeping the brain ticking for me. I was actually in bed and thinking of retiring away as nobody was asking for advise.. feeling rather useless I say.
I doubt your friend is feeling any different.. Here let Deidre explain…
Your friend probably feels like a right old party pooper.
People who are recovering their health inevitably spend a lot of recovery time at home.
For some individuals this is confined to spending time in their bedroom. And many people spend it in bed. The whole idea of ‘going out’ is very much overwhelming and takes a lot more courage than you think. Reminds me of my first day at school.. that was such a frightening experience. Well people who have been limited to their house and go out a couple of times per week can find a day trip out with friends very threatening to their confidence and security.
Having spent time in the comfort zone they find it difficult to get out and be the ‘all smiles’ that people expect of them.
What does all this mean for you, as a friend?
Well, you need to respect your friends wishes if she says she doesn’t want to go out. On the other hand, you need to ensure she is able to get out for fresh air at least once a week for about an hour or so!
Here are a few steps you can take to help your friend:
- arrange a time and place suitable for your friend to go out
- ask your friend if she wants other friends from your wider circle to be present or meet you alone, she may not be comfortable meeting in a group: the most confident of people can shy away from the social-scene in such situations
- depending upon your friends’ circumstances she may feel confident driving or battling the buses to meet you – or you may want to pick her from an agreed meeting point (especially if she hasn’t been out for a while). In any case make sure you discuss how she will be getting to your place of meeting, and that she is happy with arrangements
- when you are out, try to make your friend feel comfortable. She may find the buzzing Saturday shopping scene too overwhelming. On the other hand she may feel isolated meeting in a park with nothing but grass around! Its all about finding a suitable spot in the first place.
- your friend may wish to cancel at the last minute, since the whole idea of getting ready to go out can make people very anxious. Some people find it troublesome to decide what clothes to wear, then they have the added hassle of showering, ironing and making-up.. all within a set time-frame! When people are on sick-leave they are out of a routine and therefore they require even more time to get prepared for their day out. If your friend does feel she wants to cancel, try your best to convince her and be as flexible as you can. If she doesn’t agree, accept that. And try not to make her feel that you have been let down or are disappointed.
Many people recovering their health can have noticeable changes to their weight. These changes may be due to the added effect of stress during illness which can result in self neglect. Taking certain medicines can result in side-effects such as weight-gaining (e.g. anti-depressants) in some people. Some medicines on the other hand lead to weight loss.
When you notice weight changes in your friend..
- please don’t publicly state your observations – !!!
- speak in privacy with great sensitivity to your friend about the causes of the weight changes and your friends’ views
- some people are quick to suggest diet plans – be very cautious! Only go in this area if your friend invites you
- in addition to weight changes your friend may be looking paler than usual or have dark circles under the eyes. Similarly many people experience hair-loss as a result of illness and/or side-effects of medicine. Please be wise and don’t patronise your friend - appearance is a topic of depth which impacts heavily on the confidence of individuals.
Do remember that the weight changes / appearance etc is something your friend lives with every moment of the day. She doesn’t need reminding that she has put on a stone thanks to her medicine, or lost half!
When people get sick, everyones’ a doctor in the house!
You must remember that if your friend hasn’t contacted the healer you recommended or if she hasn’t started drinking the herbal teas you brought – it is nothing personal she has against you! Motivation to do simple things such as showering and getting ready for breakfast require a lot of strength on certain days. The determination required to follow up therapy recommendations and try out the latest tonics is a lot more tougher!
Many people believe that alternative therapies must be sought from the heart as they require a lot more commitment than conventional remedies. Some of the thoughts that run through the minds of people when being suggested a therapy:
- yet another therapist!
- costs – health impacts on peoples’ finances, especially if they were previously earning and have been signed off sick by their doctors
- time commitments – alternative treatments may require a commitment of anything from a few weeks to a few months
- parroting medical history – seeing yet another therapist means that the individual is compelled to repeat their symptoms one more time. Some individuals do get fed up of this as they simply want to move on
- confidence – some people may not feel confident to meet a complete stranger (therapist) unless they have not been proven to be effective for others, especially if they must pay this person
All in all, your friend will only give that therapist a bell when she is ready. If she is not ready to explore that avenue, then her rights must be respected.
Nosey Miss Chatterbox
You must be careful not to constantly speak to your friend about her health. It can get overwhelming even though you may be innocently enquiring. Many people get fed-up of having to explain their health to friends again and again. In terms of conversation some things to note:
- vary the subjects you speak to your friend about – she thinks about her health more than you could imagine. A variety of discussion will help her mind focus away from her illness. It is polite to ask about her wellbeing but not to probe for information. Her response should indicate whether or not she is comfortable with you enquiring about her health further
- If your friend is on sick-leave, it is not wise to enquire about her career too often. As said afore she perhaps thinks of her job and colleagues more than you think. It is also wise to remember that putting pressure on your friend regards her work responsibilities etc is not appropriate. It is also not very nice. Your friend is the one living with her condition, thus she understands the impact of that on her job and career if she were back at work right now.
- there will be days when your friend will not want to talk to you, or anybody else. This is nothing personal against you. She needs space. Many people say that we are living in an age where we are receiving so much information through so many mediums and it can become too much for our systems. Therefore for an unhealthy system, the interaction with others can sometimes become too cumbersome. Please be patient with your friend and give her space. If she doesn’t want to talk to you, that’s fine. On the other hand you do need to ensure she doesn’t isolate herself totally from your support and positive encouragements.
- many people are asked why they are not better yet – and sometimes people recovering their health can get upset and/or offended by this. Everybody would like to have good health to do all the wonderful things that they enjoy doing. Your friend perhaps thinks to herself: when will I get better too. Avoid asking her why she’s still ill please!
That’s all for now my dear – Deidre is tired and needs to pop back into bed for a snooze. Hope this helped? In addition I’d like you to read the following:
To contact Deidre.. an email will soon be added..
And thanks for that very kind comment!
Amen to your prayer there too!
But what's up? The atmosphere over at your end looks gloomy?