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  • Julie Bigham

"Getting that Diagnosis"

Today I hope to bring encouragement about a subject I know might be touchy. Getting that diagnosis. Nobody wants to hear those dreaded words, “It’s…”


I remember the pain in my heart as I sat in my OB/GYN’s office, just 24 years old, reading the words “infertile”, written across my chart. Many years later, I remember being so tired I couldn’t eat, and in so much pain that I prayed the doctor would finally find the “why”, but hoped it wasn’t “lupus”. In both cases I had to face the diagnosis. Fertility treatments led to beautiful babies. Controlling my weight, resting when I need to, stress relieving tricks, and taking better care of myself helps keep the lupus controlled.


I don’t take for granted the fact that I am blessed. Not everyone who gets a diagnosis has a good outcome. I’ve lost friends and family to cancer and heart disease, held hands of women who’ve lost babies, and shared tears with those suffering from pain beyond imagination. Getting that diagnosis sucks, there is no doubt about it. Whether it is a friend diagnosed with cancer, a child with autism, a parent with dementia, or any number of other things, getting that diagnosis sucks.


But there are benefits to facing the giant. Had I not questioned my OB/GYN about my monthly cycles, we may never have pursued the fertility treatments that made us parents and now proud grandparents. Had I ignored my pain and fatigue; we may have missed the opportunity to control a disease that can lead to death. Facing my giants was painful, but having the opportunity to fix or at least control the problems, led to great outcomes.


According to the Alzheimer’s Association, although Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, only “16% of seniors receive regular cognitive assessments during routine health checkups”. Take a look at this article from NPR:

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/03/05/700524630/alzheimers-screening-often-left-out-of-seniors-wellness-exams


Whether it’s a doctor’s resistance to give a diagnosis for a disease that currently has no cure, or a patient or family’s resistance in accepting the diagnosis, there are benefits to facing the giant!


1. When you face the diagnosis, you open your heart and mind to accepting resources that can help the person living with dementia, and the family providing care.

2. When you face the diagnosis, you can join in treatment and clinical trials that may prove beneficial to you, a loved one, and/or those facing a similar diagnosis in the future.

3. When you face the diagnosis, family and friends can pulled together to help support you on your journey.

4. When you face the diagnosis, you can plan for the future together, to assure the best care for everyone involved.


On the other hand, resisting the diagnosis can lead to fear of the unknown, pain and sadness, anger, isolation, and depression.


There are a great number of resources available for those diagnosed with Dementia and their caregivers. Books written by people sharing their experiences, support groups for both those living with dementia and those providing care, programs that help bring greater understanding of this disease, and those designed to help you find joy in the moments you share along the journey. I’ve included a partial list of on-line resources below, please feel free to use or share with someone that you know could benefit today.


www.alz.org

https://alzauthors.com/

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/alzheimersspeaks

www.secondwind.org

www.joyfilledvisits.com



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