Dr. Arthritis Shares: What To Do After You’ve Just Been Diagnosed
Before you were diagnosed with arthritis, it probably never occurred to you that one day you would get sick and never get better.
The thought you of you now having to live with a condition that will slowly progress and get worse over time, is overwhelming. The idea that you eventually have to give up doing things you love is devastating. The thought that it may reach a point where you become so dependent on others that you become a burden is crushing.
Needless to say that finally identifying the reason behind your symptoms can send your emotions spinning out of control.
Of course, now, after learning how to live with our condition for years, we realize that it wasn’t as hopeless as we perceived it to be. And in retrospect, it would have been helpful if someone helped us through the immediate, post-diagnoses stage. So we thought this might help. Here are our tips to help you handle your new diagnosis—
1. Learn everything you can about your condition
A lot of people tend to avoid Googling their symptoms for fear of what they might find. But here’s the thing—a doctor has already told you that you have arthritis. You’re not guessing or trying to figure out your symptoms anymore; therefore, there’s less chance of you spiraling into a black hole of paranoia on WebMD.
A lot of the fear and anxiety that you have over your diagnosis stems from the fact that you don’t fully understand the condition. Read about it and learn about the latest research and treatments. If you’re worried about the accuracy of things you find online, gather information you find online and discuss it with your doctor.
2. Find communities and groups going through the same thing
That feeling of isolation arthritis sufferers experience is due to the fact that no one really understands what you’re going through. If you’re lucky, you will have friends and family that are supportive to help get you through the most challenging days. But unless they know exactly what it’s like to have to drag themselves to work on less than two hours of sleep with joints that feel like they’re on fire, then they don’t really get the gravity of your situation.
To better understand what you’re already going through and about to experience with arthritis, seek out groups and communities that go through the same thing. It’s not as difficult as you might think. Our Facebook community, for example is built from a group of thousands who are familiar with everything from the daily annoyance of how painful it is to squeeze shampoo out of a bottle, to the frustration of dealing with 24/7 pain and not being able to schedule an appointment with your physician. You can also try asking your healthcare provider for recommendations or simply do a quick Google search. You’ll be surprised at how comforting it is to know that there’s a lot more people out there who understand perfectly what you’re going through.
3. Focus on the positives
Yes, this is very hard to do—all things considered. But you have to make a very conscious effort to look on the bright side. Find something that you’re grateful for every day. Try to reframe your situation—it’s important if you want to maintain and improve your sense of well-being.
4. Don’t be too proud to ask for help
We valued our independence before our diagnosis; should it be any different now that we know we have arthritis? The honest answer is, yes. There will be things that you now won’t be able to do because your body is literally telling you no—expect that. And you have to remember that if you do ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness. Don’t be too proud to seek it out if you need it–whether you need a literal helping hand, aids and tools, or emotional support.
One final thing—
Take a deep breath. As you come to terms with your diagnosis, you will realize that you’re not as helpless as you can imagine. Things will be different moving forward, and it will probably turn your life upside down, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.