Let’s face it, bad things happen and we have to deal with them. It’s never easy. One technique that has worked well for my wife and me, though, is to try to find the good in the worst of situations.
For example, when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer we realized that:
1. She was in good health otherwise so would be strong enough to fight a good fight.
2. We caught it early so there was a good chance it would be cured.
3. She had a healthy lifestyle, which would also help her recovery.
Now she has been through her initial treatment and 3 recurrences, one of which was 9 brain tumors. That certainly was bad news; here is the good we found:
1. They were not near any critical motor functions
2. Most of them were small
3. There were several viable treatment options
Part of the treatment for the tumors was whole brain radiation, resulting in permanent hair loss and short-term memory loss. The good:
1. It’s only hair, and lost hair is better than dead.
2. She can wear hats and hairpieces.
3. Short-term memory loss means that I can show her, say, birthday gifts before the fact to make sure she likes them, then by the time she opens them she will have forgotten and will be surprised all over again!
It can sometimes be a challenge, but by going through this exercise you may see that it isn’t as bad as it first seemed, and that there is some hope. And, you just might have some fun in the process.
Chris has had Poncho, a parrot, since 1957 (that’s not a typo… 1 9 5 7) that screams, bites, makes a mess, and is generally a pain in the neck. He hates me and goes after me every chance he gets. Chris loves him, though, so I have to put up with it. The good?
1. I get lots of mileage out of him as the butt of jokes in my articles and speeches.
2. When there is a picture in the paper of someone she doesn’t like Chris puts it in his cage directly beneath his favorite perch – a “target” of sorts.
3. Hmmm… ok, so this technique doesn’t work for everything…
This article is one in a series on coping strategies for patients and caregivers alike.