To The Doctors

To The Doctors

Chronic Illness isn't fun
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Dear Doctors,

Most of you don’t know me and hopefully most of you will never even need to see my chart. But chances are some of you may come across me at some point or another. Whether it be in an office or a hospital setting you’ll see my chart and wonder ‘how is this possible’. I’m sure by now there’s a note on my file saying that I’m a difficult patient and I truly do understand your frustration. But please try to understand mine as well. Somewhere along the way you’ve lost your compassion and your understanding of people. You understand the mechanics of course but not the effect of these issues.

I’ve spent most of my life being told I’m a hypochondriac and to stop researching my issues. And over the past few years I’ve heard it more and more and not just from Doctors but from my family as well. The truth is that if you were willing to listen to me and not just discount me as being hysterical we could work together better. Something a lot of people have forgotten is that the relationship between doctor and patient is supposed to be that of a team. Together we can get to the root of my issues and hopefully along the way you’ll learn something new. Because the truth is not everyone’s body reacts the exact same way (It’s called an average for a reason after all). Some people might react one way while others might react on the opposite end of the spectrum. TYPICAL DOES NOT MEAN EVERYONE. Sorry that needed to get out.

Personally I’ve known since I was about 12 that my body runs colder than the average person. My normal body temperature is 96.8 Fahrenheit, the average is 98.6. So while someone being at 100 degrees might be not too concerning for you I know that when I’m at a 100 degrees that there’s something wrong. I’ve been told countless times that my temperature is perfectly normal when I’m sitting in the office with it being 98.6 and I can’t stop shivering or I have a cough. But because the average is 98.6 and I’m telling you I have a fever I’m hysterical or a hypochondriac.

Like I said I understand your frustration because I have no clue what’s going on either, somewhere along the way my body just gave up the pretense of being normal and now I’m dealing with the fallout. All I’m asking for is for compassion and understanding, just like any other patient. I’m 25 and at this rate I have no idea what my health will even be like when I turn 30.

I try to be a good person but after frustrating appointments I can’t help but think that if you were in my shoes being treated like this how would that make you feel? Would you sit calmly while stewing on the inside because here we go again with being told there’s nothing wrong? Just because your body is reacting in a way that is not the typical way the body reacts to something. Or would you get angry and talk back or cry? I don’t know but in my less kind moments I wish this on you. I wish the confusion and the frustration and the being treated terribly on you because then maybe just maybe you would understand where your patients are coming from.

So all I ask is that next time a patient walks into the room with something that isn’t readily apparent admit it and maybe together we can learn exactly what is going on. Just treat your patients the way you would want to be treated if you were the one that was sick. Trust me it’ll mean the world to your patient to be treated compassionately. Listen to your patient and don’t just brush off their concerns as being those of someone who is hysterical. Or better treat them like it was your family or how you would hope your family was treated if this was the situation they found themselves in.

Thank You,
A Patient

Cover Image Credit: pexels.com

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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

This one's for you.
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You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that. I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions. After everything life has put you through you have still remained soft. This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did. You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself. You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away. Remember that it is OK to say no. You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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An Inside Look At Alzheimer's

This is just a little introduction to the journey my family and I have been on with my grandma while she struggled with Alzheimer's.

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My grandmother, my mom's mom, was the most beautiful soul in this world, even throughout her battle with Alzheimer's. My grandma's name is Joan Kohanski (but us grandkids called her Baba) and she was born on February 22, 1938. She was diagnosed with polio in her legs at the young age of 14. She has walked with canes ever since then but lived such an adventurous life. She married my papa (Ron) on August 8, 1959. The first daughter of theirs' was my Aunt Karen on May 25, 1961. My mom (Gail) came along on February 10, 1964. Finally, my Aunt Julie (we call her T.T.) was born on June 13, 1966.

They took many family vacations, many boat rides on my papa's boat on Lake Erie, and even a cross-country road trip in their R.V. Our family is so much fun when we get together for events and holidays, but we all agree that Baba would make everything feel whole again. Baba, as told by my mom, loved her family. It made her entire world go 'round. She would have sacrificed anything for her family and she did in many cases. One time, my Baba, Papa, and all the girls went to Cedar Point for the day. Baba didn't ride any rides that day, so she selflessly walked around all day on her canes and had blisters when the day was over just for her family. She loved her grandkids, all nine of them (me included). She was also very funny and had a great sense of humor, and I see her live through my mom every day.

I'm not sure if anyone has ever heard of this before, but supposedly, cardinals are your loved ones making themselves known that they are still there with you.

The amount of times that I have seen cardinals since her passing is uncanny and nobody can tell me that it's just a coincidence. The funniest part about it is that she lived on Cardinal Drive when my mom was growing up, and that's still where my papa lives today. Another really special thing to me is that I am part of the sorority that she was in, Delta Gamma. It makes me feel as if I have my own special connection with her that no one can take away, since all of my cousins and siblings that are older than me remember her before she was diagnosed, and I have a vague memory of it.

Baba was diagnosed with Alzheimer's around 2006 and lived with it until May 12, 2016. Her struggle with this horrible disease was not easy, certainly on her, but any of us, especially Papa. Papa took care of her at home until he was unable to anymore, which then he made the decision to put her in a care facility. She started out in a typical room by herself. As her condition got worse, she moved into the Alzheimer's unit with other people who had the same illness. If anyone has never had the first-hand experience with a loved one suffering from this disease, it is truly the most heartbreaking thing in the world. I would never wish that on my worst enemy. You start to see the person you love and look up to the most slowly become less and less of themselves, and it's not their fault. You learn to forgive them for the times that they forget your name and who you are. You know that it's really not them and they can't help it.

The whole journey of her suffering has been such a hardship to everyone in my family. It's probably the worst thing that any of us will ever go through. I am so happy with where she is right now because I know that she is in a better place, and rid of any and all illness. It's hard to come to terms that she isn't here with us any longer, and it's almost selfish of me to question "Why us?". I would do anything to have her back today but I know that there is always a reason why and I have to trust it. If you or someone you know has a family member or loved one that has Alzheimer's, just know that you are certainly not alone and other people totally understand.

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