Managing any medical diagnosis on a private level can be difficult enough, but when dealing with a chronic condition such as uterine fibroids, managing symptoms is only one side of the story. We often need to share at least some of the diagnosis with others, which is a challenge all its own. Deciding when, how and with whom to share this information requires decisions and thought.
Finding your peace
This is the first basic, yet potentially difficult step in sharing with others. If it takes a little more time to work through this on a personal level, take that time. Presenting the issue to others needs to be done in a level-headed, controlled manner, which isn’t always easy. Consulting support online or otherwise in coping with body changes, becoming informed and building a plan toward positivity is key.
Who must be told
While informing a partner and immediate family members might be mandatory, other family members, friends, a boss and co-workers are all people who MAY be informed if you so choose. This is your story, so you get to choose with whom to share this knowledge.
The extent that symptoms affect daily life that touches each of these people, as well as their expected reaction and the consequences thereof will dictate a large portion of this decision. Has calling in to work for a sick day due to heavy bleeding become commonplace? If so, it’s likely wise to share the diagnosis with your boss. Working from home when symptoms get rough could be a workable option and that will require some adaptation, both at home and in the office.
Consider your audience
How is this particular person or persons likely to react? When a calm reaction is expected, less preparation is required, rather than the practiced sharing that should be rehearsed when anticipating a more severe reaction.
Choose a venue
Go for coffee? Invite her over? Phone conversation? Zoom meeting? All options are open and while a parent who lives hundreds of kilometers away might have to be informed over the phone, closer friends could meet in person… or not. Sharing in a group setting can be advantageous when approaching siblings or co-workers.
For many of us, social media is a blessed way to keep in touch with old friends and far-away family. While potentially supportive and therefore a comfortable shoulder to lean on, social media has the distinct disadvantage in that one never really knows where published material may wind up. Once the writer hits “send” complete control is gone. Privacy settings notwithstanding, posts can be shared, copied and viewed by more than the simple, selected audience one may have chosen.
Get all the facts straight
People get concerned and they’re likely to ask questions. Do you have the answers? Do you want the answers or care to share them? What does it mean to have fibroids? Where are they? How is this likely to affect daily life? When might they disappear? How are they treated? Answering, “I’d like to just play this day by day for now,” is an entirely acceptable answer, as is giving every bit of scientific knowledge ever published. The call is yours.
Is Grandma likely to go into a panic? Roll play with a friend or partner in advance of the real conversation. A dry run with a calm voice and practiced answers does wonders in calming down worried relatives with whom there is no choice but to share the diagnosis, but with whom one may not relish sharing potential reactions. In more extreme cases, prepare an “out” in the form of a mandatory phone call that needs to be made or an urgent errand or work task.
Go for it!
The security provided through the love, understanding and support friends and family provide makes any medical challenge that much easier. Putting coping strategies into place in the workplace lessens the stress that can aggravate chronic pain. So while sharing a diagnosis with the general public isn’t necessary, being open with our nearest and dearest can greatly improve quality of life. Doesn’t everyone need a hug?