The Trouble with Chronic Pancreatitis
Or How I Learned to be a Health Psychologist
Living with a chronic illness is hard. That’s what my patients tell me. My patients have taught me a lot about what it is like to live with a chronic issue that affects their bodies and lifestyles on a daily basis. They have told me about the limitations and sacrifices they have had to make because of their medical conditions, and of how their altered functioning has affected their relationships, their hobbies, and their work. They have shared the inconvenient “surprises” that can immediately change their plans for the day, the week, or the year.
Other patients have shared with me their frustrations with not being able to find a clear diagnosis or treatment for their distressing and sometimes debilitating health issues. They tell me of the fear that arrests them when another unexplained symptom comes on out of the blue, and not knowing what may happen next. They tell me what it’s like to have multiple doctors tell them there is no answer for their affliction, or the often-feared and invalidating response that “It’s all in your head.” They tell me what it feels like when they see the skepticism in their family member or friend’s faces, when their doctor labels them as “drug-seeking,” or when their child looks up with sad eyes because he doesn’t understand why Mom can’t take him to the park again today.
The journey through the emotional aspects of living with a chronic medical condition is a tough one, and one that I have had the privilege of bearing witness to with many of my patients. In journeying together with my patients I have learned to always respect others’ experiences, to see the person behind the diagnosis with their own unique character and strengths, and to celebrate even the smallest successes. I am truly in awe of how people are able to carry their burdens and cope with their struggles, no matter how great.
My patients have also told me about how they have learned to adjust to the pains and other symptoms they live with on a daily basis, and how they have found the happiness and peace they thought they would never find again. It is possible to live a fulfilling life with chronic pain and chronic illness. Just ask Lady Gaga. Or Selena Gomez. Or Jordan Morris (I’m a huge soccer fan). Or ask me to tell you some stories of patients who have learned how to come to terms with the conditions they live with, how we worked with their doctors to focus on the aspects of their health they could control, and how we worked together to cope with and make peace with the things they could not control.
Most patients with chronic illnesses want a few very reasonable things: to have their story listened to and respected by someone who can help; to learn the treatment options for the diagnosis that is causing their symptoms; to have a road map to guide them through their options; and to have some support along the way. It is always a privilege for me to be a part of another’s care team at any point in their journey.
Contact me today to learn about how we may be able to work together.