I have recently been surrounded it seems by ill health. Several friends and family have had health problems and I have presented a sympathetic ear whilst listening to the details. Amongst the details of the condition is their outlook. I want to use the word attitude but we use the word so often in a negative sense it is less helpful. So what do I mean when I say outlook?
A person’s outlook is their view of how their medical condition is and will affect them both here and going forward. Such an outlook can be usually broken down into two groups. The positive and the negative.
The positive sees ill health as a staging point, not a destination. It is temporary and a challenge. Whenever I have strained a muscle or am ill I reflect back on the path to recovery a previous time. That doesn’t reduce the suffering but it puts it into context. And I believe it can actually accelerate the road to recovery.
The negative focuses solely on the here and now, projecting more of the same misery into the future. It is a never ending cycle of woe. And to be honest I struggle to be sympathetic for long! Such an attitude closes off the possibility of improvement and equally important the possibility that they can do something themselves to improve their condition. This summer I have been privileged to witness the power of positive thinking.
Someone I know has suffered from osteoporosis for several years. In the spring they were hospitalised by the pain in their back. The usual tests were done and after the second admission a picture of what was happening slowly emerged. Through all the pain and sleepless nights they tried to keep positive.
Once a diagnosis was made some two months later, they actively began to ask questions about what could be done and what could they do to improve things. Physio, exercises, posture, cushion seating were some of the answers. Several weeks of exercise went by with no change. And then one day they had half an hour pain free. Over several weeks these moments of relief from pain grew. Then one day they realised that if they were to do the exercises as the pain returned, it would go. Soon they were having hours pain free, still doing their exercises, still doing their daily walk.
They phoned me the week before last in great spirits, they had had five complete days without any pain.
We should never underestimate the power of the mind, so little is talked about it in relation to poor health and yet it is a key element of recovery.
And finally, where am I now with all my own aches and pains? I realise that physio exercises will help me to recover, that positive attitude is central and that you can learn from other people’s experiences you simply need to look carefully and listen fully.