Guest Author - Colleen Forgus
When you are suffering with an illness, sometimes it is valuable to stop and think about perspective. I recently attended an Ostomy Support Group meeting with a friend who is dealing with the challenges of living with a colostomy. All of the people in attendance (except me) had some form of ostomy device to collect bodily waste materials that is placed on the outside of their body. This is a challenge that I find incredibly difficult to imagine and my heart goes out to the people who must deal with this issue.
During the meeting, one woman spoke about the insensitivity of her doctor when he explained that she would be living the rest of her life with an external pouch attached to her body to collect fecal waste material. He said, “It’s just a little bag you wear and change it as needed.” I was shocked at the doctor’s insensitivity and insulting comment to a person who was about to undergo a life altering medical procedure.
Other people awoke from surgery to unexpectedly find themselves with a body altering procedure that would forever change the way they could function in their daily lives. Many of the attendees were rightfully frustrated with their situations and lack of understanding from their own family members.
But then a very upbeat gentleman spoke up. He mentioned that he happily endured the procedure that left him with no bladder function and caused him to wear a device to collect his urine, because he was so miserable in the condition he was in prior to his surgery. He was obviously a person who believed in making the best of the situation and not dwelling on the negative.
He then told a story of a young man he met who had lost both arms and both legs as a result of an injury while serving in the military. The soldier had an extremely positive attitude and worked with others who had various body deforming accidents. He was quoted as saying, “There are people who are a lot worse off than I am.” From my perspective, it is hard to imagine losing all of my limbs and still having an amazingly upbeat attitude. I admire that!
For people who live with thyroid disease, I know there are many frustrated and suffering individuals who find it difficult to maintain a positive attitude. The varied physical and psychological symptoms of thyroid disease can be hard to live with. Unfortunately, many doctors do not fully understand the very real symptoms that patients are dealing with and many thyroid tests do not properly measure the true health of the thyroid gland. Medicines can definitely help, but there is a delicate balancing act in finding the correct medications and dosages.
However, I do believe in the importance of a positive mental outlook. From time to time we all need a reminder to look outside our own suffering and look at things from a different perspective. This is not to minimize your own issues – they are important and real. But looking at the world from a larger perspective and taking a moment to understand the suffering of another human being is an important exercise in compassion and healing. Find time to be grateful for the good things in your life. Take a moment to enjoy the simple pleasures. Give yourself permission to take time to enjoy a peaceful moment alone. Empower yourself with the ability to say, “No, thank you.”
I believe it is important for all of us as human beings to look outside of ourselves for inspiration and healing. Take time to understand things from a different perspective than your own. I believe it will help you in the healing process.
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