(Note. You will note that there has been a temporary break and short delay in the posting of blogs due to illness; sorry about that. SB.)
Following on from my most recent blog, the difficulty in writing to you employing this particular format in an attempt to be useful and helpful, is that the problems and hazards, as they tumble out into real life, do not do so under neat and inclusive topic headings. Later on I intend writing to you about confusions engendered by use of phrases like, “Don’t be so negative about things”, and “You really should try to be more positive in your outlook”. So at not just the risk, but the certainty of restating more about this in blogs yet to follow, I want briefly to comment about it, right here and now.
The way I see it is that what is written in each one of these blogs, is – as far as it is possible and feasible (without actually knowing your identity and a little about you) – is very genuinely written to and for you. It summarizes and in many ways epitomizes my approach to patient care. So, it will not surprise you to know that I am going to (as briefly but as accurately as I am able) describe my approach to patients, such as the stoma and breast cancer patients, referred to above. Others may differ in their approach to patient care. However, the simple truth is that when patients – for whatever reason – feel the need to pour out their personal account of pain, anguish and sometimes anger – with whatever degree of lucidity or incoherence – I can do no more at that point in time than accommodate them by seeking to be a caring, sympathetic and – yes – a welcoming host. In other words, I just listen.
An elderly neighbour who lived in my childhood community and who ever seemed to be in possession of local news and views before her ‘rivals’, had a fierce competitor living just a block or so away. The latter of these two “village gossips” began almost every conversation and indeed sentence with, “Well, as I always say…” One day when their rivalry was at its height, the former of the pair was heard to remark, “Maudey, you’ll only start hearing, if you’ll stop saying”.
We all know the value of a genuine ‘listening’ and ‘hearing ear’. It enables us to acknowledge our own concerns by expressing them in a verbal manner. That way, not only does the listener hear but also we ourselves – sometimes for the first time – receive and respond to them. Moreover, the sense and meaning of what we hear can sometimes surprise us and lead on to even greater coherence, and control. If you cannot find someone who ‘fits the bill’ as it were, by meeting the needs of the moment in this way, may I suggest, if necessary and where there is no one else to write to, that you write down your thought for your own interest and benefit.
The key point – irrespective of whatever form is open and available to you – is this. Get as much of it as you can on the outside, where you can see what manner and measure of problem or problems you need to address and hopefully, to begin to resolve. You really don’t need to be an “Einstein” or even a “Jung” to appreciate the simple point that the more you are able to externalize in this way, the less is likely to be left on the inside to ‘fester’ and ferment and continue to cause problems for you.
It is also worth remembering that where you are so able to get your worries and concerns out into the light of day, it is very important not to just leave, as it were “vacant spaces” for other concerns (or indeed, the same ones but now in other guises) to ‘take up residence’ again. It is also a good idea to have someone (you need a lot of them like you need a ‘hole in the head’) one individual perhaps – maybe a relative or close friend or whoever – to talk to face-to-face or over the telephone and who you know will listen carefully and speak sparingly, thoughtfully, reassuringly and above all, sincerely.
Another helpful ‘tool’ within this context, is the tape recorder. It too can serve a useful purpose by helping you to relax and remain calm. I have made such tapes with this very purpose in mind for many years now. Believe me, there is a lot of help to be had and a very great deal that you can do to help and support yourself. Hopefully – and just possibly – I can help with both the contents and the spirit in which these blogs are being written. I should like that very much; but whatever you do and to whomsoever you may turn, never ever allow anyone to convince you that you are a “victim” or in some way inadequate or insufficient for the task in hand.