One day, your life is all peaches and cream. Your routine is amicable, and you are living comfortably within the confines of your life. And then suddenly, you have a heart attack, or your husband has cancer or a car accident derails your existence, as you know it. Your child may suddenly become sick – or even an aging parent can become suddenly ill – and you become forced to rearrange your life to take care of them. Dealing with unexpected health problems can be a fork in the plans of any and every family at any time. The reality is that the reason health problems can be so disturbing to life as you know it, is because they are almost always unplanned. One day everything is fine and the next it is not.
Families, who experience unexpected health problems in one way or another, always have to readjust and change their plans. At first, the worry and fret can be enough to throw your life into a hiatus. Experts however, advise people to deal with serious health problems one day at a time. In the very beginning, the first step is to emotionally grasp the depth of the problem. Is it life threatening? It is a temporary problem? What are your options? While many doctors are experienced at treating the patients, the family of the patient or the one afflicted needs help too. You will find that many health organizations such as insurance companies and even hospitals – have people who can help you answer the questions of what to do next. After you take the initial blow of diagnosis – you should then try to move forward and figure out what the next step is. Since you’re going to need your medical information accessible at all times, a good way to get organized is by setting up your electronic medical records online.
Most often, the most direct impact felt by families with serious health issues is a financial one. The problem may make it impossible for one member of the family to work, cutting the earned income in half. Or, retirement planning can suddenly be thrown amuck by a serious diagnosis that means you or your spouse may not live till retirement age. Most people plan their financial future as if they will never have a health problem to deal with. And why wouldn’t they? Today, life expectancies are at all time highs. This is one reason why financial experts often encourage people to plan for a worst-case scenario.
The following tips are also helpful for dealing with unexpected health problems!
- Sit down with doctors and have them explain everything to you from beginning to end. Ask about costs and what to expect in the future. You may want to bring another family member with you – so that they can hear what is being said as well since often the closest family members are not thinking clearly.
- Ask for help from family members. If you have kids that will need care, or help with cooking meals – don’t be afraid to ask others for assistance. This is when the ‘village’ should be invited in to help you. If you think you can handle it all on your own, you are wrong – and will only cause yourself more stress.
- Know what to anticipate. Beyond the initial car accident ramifications or first round of chemo – there will likely be long term physical issues to deal with. Keep the lines of communication with your physician open so you know what to expect in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
- Get in touch with your insurance company. Not only do they have resources to help you – you can also understand what the financial setbacks will be by talking to them.
- Reset your priorities. Unfortunately, many people have not taken the time to put their priorities in order and a serious health problem can be the time to do just that. Figure out what is important and what is not – and do your best to reassess your goals in life.
- Try to keep things as routine and normal as possible for you and your family. If you have kids, throwing everything off kilter will only shock and awe them and refute their sense of security. While you should be honest with your kids (if they are old enough) you should also do your best to keep things as normal as possible. In other words, don’t ship them off to someone else’s home – and instead try to get a family member to come to your house and stay with the kids, keep them enrolled in school, and try to keep their activities as routine as possible.
- Talk to other people who have been through the same ordeal. There are support groups for nearly every type of health problem whether you were in a horrific car crash – or have just been diagnosed with kidney failure. These people can become your support system and your lifeline because they know exactly how you feel.
- Don’t be afraid to show your emotions. It is okay to cry, and it is okay to feel pain. The important thing is working through these feelings as they arise and not trying to be strong for everyone else around you. You are entitled to your feelings, and you should not be forced to hide them. If you have children, you should be able to talk to them as well and offer them a platform for expressing their feelings.
It is also important to realize that you are not alone. Life may never be the same again, but it will go on. There are solutions to your problems, and there are people that will be able to help you.