Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Don't Promise Me Something You Can't Deliver

Maggie keeps my spot on the couch all warmed up. 

Arthritis Today tweeted today about an article titled How To Beat Fatigue.

The article is surprisingly good. (Yes, that was snarky but I have had issues with some of the writing in this magazine before, sorry.)

Specifically, I thought the section in which patients discuss their complex relationship with their healthcare providers in discussing this very frustrating problem was apt:
Grant agrees. She knows the “Oh dear, here we go again” look from doctors when she brings up her fatigue. “Doctors don’t want to hear how tired patients feel – I think it makes them feel uncomfortable because they can’t fix it,” she says.
The author also thoroughly covered the potential causes, diagnostic work-ups, medications, and lifestyle changes in the treatment of fatigue as related to autoimmune disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
 Figuring out the trigger is like unraveling dozens of tangled strings of lights to find the few burned-out bulbs.
A timely metaphor. Or is it a simile?

It's worth a read, so head over there.

However......and call me a Dottie Downer here, but this otherwise excellent article just bugs me. A teensy little bit. And the problem I have is with the very first statement in the article.

I know that in magazine/online periodical type of writing, a bold "hook" type statement is commonly used in grabbing the reader's attention at the beginning of the article. You've seen them all: LOSE 500 POUNDS IN THREE MINUTES ON THIS DIET! or YOU CAN BUY THIS BAZILLION DOLLAR MANSION WITH NO MONEY!

Oh, brother. So the hook in this piece in Arthritis Today goes like this:
Fatigue is a mysterious and persistent foe, but you can beat fatigue and feel more energetic than ever.

You can? I can? Fatigue can be conquered? Really? So if I experience fatigue, I am not working hard enough? That I'm a slacker because I don't feel more energetic than ever!?

See, why can't these articles just be realistic? And in this one's defense, aside from the hook and the snappy concise conclusion....I'll get to that in a minute....it actually does provide a pretty accurate description of what this fatigue looks and talks and walks like. And the author does explain some very good tips and strategies for managing fatigue.

So what would be wrong with beginning the piece with something along the lines of, Fatigue is a mysterious and persistent foe, but you can have days with more energy.

I know. Not as attention grabbing, but in all honesty, I would much rather read a piece with a realistic opening, instead of one that slaps me with a challenge: Julia! Read This And Do This Or You're A Total Loser! You Can BEAT Fatigue!


Well, actually, after eight years in autoimmune land, I know that fatigue is going to be an issue for me as long as my inflammation levels are high. I can manage it, and I can learn more about it, and I can learn to discuss it more effectively with my doctor, family and friends, but. It will always be lurking around somewhere, and that's not because I have some kind of character defect that keeps me on the couch every now and then.

This rather irresponsible sentiment isn't repeated anywhere else in the article, except.......

The very last statement.
Keep trying to feel your best and know that, in the meantime, doctors and researchers will continue to study how and why most people with inflammatory diseases experience fatigue, with the hope of creating more and better treatment options


Thank you, clueless editor, who probably took an otherwise great article and pasted on an unrealistic hook and conclusion.

How DO we manage to get through our days without excellent advice such as this?


Unknown said...

Julia, I completely agree!

The words we use matter and telling people with illnesses that they are responsible for "fighting" and "beating" their disease just isn't fair.

Doctors and researchers fight illness; patients suffer from it.

Blogger Mama said...

I am guessing that this author has never had to battle fatigue or the wording would have been completely different!

The wording almost makes me feel more fatigued at the thought of having to "beat" it.

ShEiLa said...

I am so glad that you can be honest about reality. If you suffer from inflammation and fatigue and flares... just try to pretend that you have energy for anything.

I agree. Don't promise something you can't deliver. Also thanks for not giving up on a real solution.

My levels must be high now... cause I am having a tough few days.