January 27, 2012
Jenny's Notebook: Directions and Destinations
How truthful are you about the way you manage your lupus? I’m going to ask you a few questions; let’s see how you do—and be honest.
Have you ever skipped taking your meds? Once or twice? For a week? For longer?
Have you ever spent the whole day in the sun without any sunblock or sun-protective clothing?
Have you ever insisted on working late every night for weeks on end because no one else could possibly finish that project but you?
Did you answer “Yes’, to any of these? If so, you’re not alone. I confess that I’m guilty of each and every one.
And if your doctor asked you those same questions, how would you answer?
You might first deny everything—that will work until the lab test results come in. You might admit to one or two, like no sunblock, or a few extra hours on the job—you’d probably get away with that for awhile.
But you should know that anyone with lupus answering ‘yes’ to questions like these has just become the doctor’s worst nightmare: the noncompliant patient.
Every doctor dreads this patient because those noncompliant actions have consequences. Maybe it was a mild flare that knocked us off our feet for a few days and disrupted our plans. But maybe it was a severe flare—one that put us in the hospital for a few weeks and scared our loved ones half to death.
An article in the Fall 2008 issue of Lupus Now discussed why people are non-compliant with their prescribed medicines: adverse side effects, medication costs, inadequate insurance coverage. Research shows that clinical depression can also cause noncompliance. Forgetfulness, too, plays a role, maybe due to lupus “fog,” maybe because of internal disobedience—in other words: denial.
We’re only human
It’s human nature, I think, to want to go back to how we used to be—our former self, “LBL: Life Before Lupus.”
In our beautiful Life Before Lupus, we could do anything we wanted. We had plans for recreation, for work, for family. We had dreams and goals. Being sick had no place in this life. And having a disease that would require our attention forever? The possibility simply never occurred to most of us.
Then lupus happened. And that beautiful life became “LWL: Life With Lupus.”
If we’re not careful, that dream—the yearning for Life Before Lupus, can turn into a nightmare. By disrupting our doctors’ efforts to keep our lupus under control, we become our own enemy. We countermand our own best chance of getting better.
It’s taken some 18 years, but I’ve come to see that following all my doctors’ directions is like following a road map. I no longer view my Life With Lupus as a dark and dangerous journey. Instead I understand that my true destination is to live the best life possible, despite the many challenges of lupus.
And when I get lost, or have a flat tire, or the car hood falls on my head (good thing I have a thick skull!), that’s when I call on my personal road crew for support: family, friends, co-workers, boyfriend, and yes—my doctors.
So today I pledge to take my pills, remember the sunblock, forgive the doctor for making me wait, and smile at the lab tech drawing my blood. Because no matter how many wrong turns I have taken, I want my trip to last a long time!
Won’t you join me?
Your faithful correspondent and traveler,
Labels: Jenny's Notebook