Monday, 16 April 2018

:: COLUMN :: When others have a blinkered attitude towards a shared illness

Image courtesy of https://bit.ly/2HrB4ix

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


One thing I have noticed since being diagnosed with endometriosis (and other chronic illnesses) is the lack of understanding others have of your illness. I know it’s a big thing in the world of endometriosis, how little others know about this disease, but, I myself have no problem with this. These times only serve as an ample chance to raise awareness of endometriosis and I’m more than happy to discuss it if someone wishes to sit and listen. What I’m actually talking about though, is when you find other people with the same illness having the greatest misunderstanding of it.

I’ve seen it happen a lot, where someone doesn’t have as severe pain as you and because of this they cannot comprehend that your pain might be greater. Where people have to have time off work because their endometriosis is affecting their day to day lives, whereas someone else might never have to take a day off work for it. It’s the same with medications and treatments, where something has worked for one person so they push it on others and they cannot understand that it might not work in the same way for another person. And also, where a treatment or medication has worked for them and they cannot see how it can’t be working for you.

It’s almost this kind of “blinkering”, rather than plain ignorance. People tend to think things are much simpler and easy to “solve” rather than accept that things might be worse, or, even, different for someone else.

I like to remind people that we, human beings, are all different. We have different problems, we work differently and in the same way, although we might have the same illness, we often don’t have it exactly the same. Take endometriosis, for example. Because endometriosis occurs so differently in each and every one of us, is situated in different areas, causes different symptoms, and because our bodies are all so different, the same treatments will always give differing results. You might also find that a person with stage IV (severe) endometriosis is in less pain than a person with stage I (mild) endometriosis, as this depends, largely, on where the endometriosis is located. You’ll find that this same example works across a broad spectrum of illnesses, conditions and diseases also.

It’s taken some time for me to fully understand this notion. We’ve become so accustomed to illnesses like the common cold causing blocked, runny noses, sneezing, maybe a stuffy head, sore throat and a cough - a standard set of symptoms with a standard resolution - that we apply that same impression to other illnesses. But, something like endometriosis is far more complex than a cold or a simple infection. There is no standard resolution to our pain or the other issues endometriosis throws at us. Some try every option out there, from birth control pills to excision surgery (and everything in between), only to find that nothing helps them.

It’s easy to become blinkered by health issues, thinking that things are only as bad, or good, as we have it. But, we must remember to understand and hear others voices, to not disbelieve them when they say things are worse for them. Even if we ourselves haven’t shared these experiences with our shared illnesses.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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