I ached, I was tired. I had to use aids to walk, to go to the toilet and I had to have my car adapted to be able to drive safely. I was at a crossroads in my life.
Victim or survivor? I started to think about what was important to me. My family, my job, my animals, my house. I was also important. I started doing things for me. I started doing therapy, acupuncture, hypnosis, massage, relaxation, reflexology, reiki. Anything to help or at least keep me positive.
I love swimming and never stopped my routine of 40 laps per session, three times a week even when I was exhausted. The survivor was starting to emerge. I was enjoying life and being with people. I had also got my sense of humour back. I also learned to be a lot calmer. It was hard to do things, particularly to do them quickly. I had to task analyse everything I did.
My husband, Mick, does everything he can to lessen the stress in my life. I accept myself, warts and all.
Life after a life-threatening illness | Life and style | The Guardian
I love my life. I have never been happier. It has taken a lot of insight, thought, learning, acceptance and love to be where I am today.
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But there is help.
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Living with a life-threatening illness
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Dealing with uncertainty
Please subscribe to sign in to comment. Not the excited anticipation that healthy children associate with important events and opportunities, but an anxious anticipation that accompanies medical interventions whose outcome is uncertain. Medical illness can rapidly spin out of control for the child. Procedures, medications, hospitalizations, and restrictions are all perceived as life changes imposed by others.
Facing terminal illness
The optimal response by clinicians and caregivers is to allow the child or adolescent as many options as possible during the diagnostic process and treatment phase of the illness. Some of the choices may seem inconsequential, but each is a step towards greater control for the child. Along with this notion of control is the ability to maintain a sense of identity. For children and adolescents this frequently involves affiliation with their peer group and the stability of the "group's identity" based on appearance, interests, academics, and social life.
They should be given every opportunity to continue friendships and other social relationships. Every child also wants to preserve his or her own identity that incorporates both individual and familial traits. This can be particularly difficult when the child experiences physical and emotional changes characterized primarily by their illness. Accomplishments measured in terms of the disorder that elicit responses, such as, "You played a great game for someone with diabetes," take away the child's sense of belonging to their peer group. Children may encounter peers moving on to face new academic, social, and athletic challenges, while they remain behind until the illness either remits or resolves enough to proceed.
Developmental concerns are also a factor; these children may not be able to develop a sense of belonging to their peer group because of their illness. Separating the impact of the illness from symptoms of mood disorder is a challenge when making the diagnosis of depression in medically ill children. Occasionally caregivers rationalize their approach to young patients with a belief that children suffering from severe illness will naturally experience symptoms of depression.
They may either intervene with every patient or avoid the diagnosis and provide few psychiatric services. Each case should be assessed individually, without assumption or bias. For example, characteristics of medical illness do not necessarily predispose young patients to depression.
Illness severity as measured by the number of hospitalizations and relapses is not directly related to increased risk. The type of illness may also determine a patient's response. Cancer patients, for example, frequently acknowledge low depression rates despite severe illness. The term "cancer" is often associated with death among patients and caregivers, more so than with other diseases. These children probably use denial and repression as defense mechanisms to cope with the stress of diagnosis and treatment.
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Challenging these attempts at self-protection under the guise of helping the patients adjust to illness is not necessarily helpful. Depression occasionally complicates the clinical presentation in a child with chronic illness. Young patients present with depression as a direct consequence of the illness or its treatment, as a result of the impact of the disease on the individual and family, or as an exacerbation of a pre-existing affective disorder. Children with chronic illnesses reveal trends consistent with depression in the general pediatric population.
Adolescent girls with a chronic illness are more likely to suffer from depression than adolescent males. Low levels of social support lead to poorer outcomes.
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Family history of depression is also a risk factor for the development of mood disorders. Illnesses involving the central nervous system, those with obvious adverse cosmetic effects, or that severely compromise the patient's activity level are more likely to reinforce the development of a mood disorder. Relationships exist between depressive symptoms and mortality in asthma, retinopathy in juvenile diabetes, and recurrent major depression in female adolescent diabetics. Occasionally distinctions between illness and depression are difficult to discern. Patients may be limited in mobility, activity level, and exercise tolerance by the disease and appear depressed.
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