Monday, April 7, 2014

Toni Bernhard: How Chronic Pain and Illness Fan the Flames of Uncertainty

Thanks to Sarah for sending me the link to Toni Bernhard's Psychology Today blogpost entitled How Chronic Pain and Illness Fan the Flames of Uncertainty. Ms. Bernhard really hits the nail on the head in her assessment of the relationship between chronic illness and feeling unsettled. Here's a snippet:

No one is immune from life’s uncertainty. But for the chronically ill—which includes those who suffer from chronic pain—it can feel as if the number of life factors subject to uncertainty has multiplied geometrically. Indeed, perhaps the hardest thing about being chronically ill is the uncertainty it brings to almost every aspect of life. 
Here are six ways in which uncertainty is a particular source of stress for the chronically ill.....continue reading here
Toni Bernhard, J.D., is a former law professor at University of California at Davis. She wrote the award-winning How to Be Sick and, recently, How to Wake Up. I am looking forward to reading my copy of her latest, How to Wake Up. Love that Amazon "buy now" button.

I was impressed with Bernhard's choice of the word uncertainty; since if I were writing this piece I would probably not have had the wisdom to use such a neutral word. A word that doesn't immediately link to a strongly negative emotion.

When I think about the six scenarios that she presents, and number five is a good example: Uncertainty over how we’ll react to a routine medical procedureI probably would have expressed this concept using phrases that include the word panic. Or even more accurately, Oh-My-Gosh-I'm-Sure-I'm-Going-To-Die, resulting in the classic Let's-All-Have-Ice Cream-In-Case-This-Is-My-Demise response. Preferably one that includes a Butterfinger Blizzard.

::Deep breaths, Julia. Just breathe Got BICJ locked back up in her closet? We do? Good.::

I sincerely appreciate any help in guiding me toward a better acceptance of the realities of chronic illness and Bernhard offers some very spot on advice, especially this: "What I’m recommending here is that we work on making peace with life’s uncertainty since it’s an inevitable part of the human experience."

Make peace. Not Butterfinger Blizzards. I like it.

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