Forty percent of the United States has a chronic illness.
These illnesses range from invisible autoimmune diseases to conditions that require an oxygen tank to be available at all times of the day. No matter the level of severity, the physical or mental characteristics, or the solution, it's rare for individuals who do not have a chronic disease to know everything about it. Even if you have a basic understanding of what someone with a certain disease is going through, chronic conditions are complicated! It takes a lot of education to see how diseases work.
One of the simplest, best ways to learn more about chronic conditions is to talk to someone who has it. I'm not recommending that you go up to a strange and start asking them about their ailments — that's invasive. Instead, having a considerate conversation with a friend or loved one who has a chronic disease is helpful. Not only does this help them feel heard, but it gives you the space to learn about something that has undoubtedly impacted their life. If they give you their consent, sharing this conversation in an interview-style article can further raise awareness, increase education, and remind others to keep asking questions about chronic illnesses.
Headline: I Talked To My [Relation] About His/Her [Condition] And [Reflection Of Conversation]
Simply fill in the blank. When deciding upon the last section of this headline (the "reflection of conversation" piece), think about a closer that is descriptive, not too long, and paints the picture of how your interview went. Some examples of this could be "...And I Learned SO Much," or "...And WOW That's A Lot Of Shots."
Ask the person you interviewed if they have an image they think is most appropriate for the piece. Ideally, this picture will include them in the shot, have great lighting, and assist in painting the picture of what their condition means for their life. If they don't have a picture for you to use, suggest taking one at the interview!
Write one or two paragraphs that provide relevant background information the readers may benefit from. This should include what condition you're going to be talking about, as well as any statistics that are helpful (like how many people in the United States have this disease). Wrap up your introduction by introducing the person you'll be interviewing — make sure to include their full name and their relation to you.
First, decide how you will record your interview. Are you going to write everything out or ask them if you can record the conversation so you can reference it later? Make sure the choice is something you are both comfortable with.
Before you sit down and start asking someone questions, you'll need to do some preliminary research. This way you have, at the very least, a basic understanding of their disease. This will help you form questions that are considerate and helpful.
Make your list of questions BEFORE you sit down for your interview — you can always ask follow-up questions based on the answers you receive, but having a list to begin the conversation is necessary. Here are some questions that we suggest you start with.
— What is a simple definition of [condition]?
— When were you diagnosed?
— How does this impact your day-to-day life?
— What logistical things do you have to consider that other people don't?
— What is the treatment like for [condition]?
— How often do you have doctor's appointments? What do those appointments consist of?
— What is the most common misconception you've heard about [condition]?
— How has this disease helped you grow?
When you're asking these questions, as well as other, more condition-specific questions you've come up with, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. If there's a medical term you don't know, ask for the definition. If you aren't sure you understand something the interviewee has said, ask them to expand or give an example. This is their life and their story — don't make assumptions.
As you write out your finished interview, be thorough in the picture you paint for the readers. If a medical term is used, link the phrase to an accurate, educational source that explains it. Provide additional links that are helpful and informative. If an organization is mentioned, include their website. Don't leave out resources that could encourage others to look into this condition more, too.