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Old 01-31-2015, 09:03 PM   #1
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Health issues confidential

Whenever I'm out walking the dog, I bump into acquaintances in the neighborhood and chat.

This week was unusual though in that 5 different people confided in me about their health problems which I won't go into here, but I'll just say some of the 5 will be dead soon. I have known all of these folks for a few years, so they are not strangers to me.

While it is not a burden for me to learn all this news, this kind of frankness has not happened to me in the past.

Let me ask folks, do you find it easier to discuss your health issues with acquaintances rather than family and friends? Who are the people that confide in you? Who would you confide in?

In some respects, I think people just need someone who will listen without being judgemental. I am happy to listen, but I cannot change the inevitable. Would this trouble you?
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:29 PM   #2
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I believe that people talk about what frightens them most. Saying it out loud helps to begin a process of coping. The people closest to them have already heard it. A fresh audience helps to gauge the acceptance or possible dismissal of the person with the illness, and becomes a data point in their own acceptance of their new reality.

I agree with you that people just need a kind and accepting listener more than anything else. The fear of loss is hard.
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Old 01-31-2015, 10:46 PM   #3
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Not particularly on-topic but it did make me think of this TED talk from last year:

Matthew O'Reilly: “Am I dying?” The honest answer. | Talk Video | TED.com
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Old 02-01-2015, 07:25 AM   #4
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LOL - you must have very good listening skills which people seek out. We all need to feel 'connected' and that involves sharing our fears and concerns. You have an admirable trait and those who unburden to you pick up your comfort with it.

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Old 02-01-2015, 07:36 AM   #5
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^ I don't think my spouse would agree with you. She thinks the dog has good listening skills, not me.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:06 AM   #6
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I believe that people talk about what frightens them most. Saying it out loud helps to begin a process of coping. The people closest to them have already heard it. A fresh audience helps to gauge the acceptance or possible dismissal of the person with the illness, and becomes a data point in their own acceptance of their new reality.

I agree with you that people just need a kind and accepting listener more than anything else. The fear of loss is hard.
Excellent assessment. I completely agree with this.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:29 AM   #7
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...snip..

Let me ask folks, do you find it easier to discuss your health issues with acquaintances rather than family and friends? Who are the people that confide in you? Who would you confide in?

In some respects, I think people just need someone who will listen without being judgemental. I am happy to listen, but I cannot change the inevitable. Would this trouble you?
LOL tend to agree with Rich these folks feel comfortable with you. Yes they just want someone to listen and not judge.

FIL had hidden his cancer from his DW of 50 years. He'd talked with a neighbor instead. We knew there was something wrong with him, as he'd complain he couldn't walk around the block anymore due to pain. This went on for two years, intermittent DR. visits by himself. "Doc says nothing wrong with me!" Shortly after his death the neighbor told MIL the truth. I guess FIL thought he was protecting MIL.

A former co-w*rker, that was such a lovely woman, we all called her mom. She confided in me that her cancer was back, she was afraid, would we pray for her? I reassured her we would. She passed 6 weeks later, the family thought it was only 4 weeks from her diagnosis. First time I ever said a word, right now.

My DW has panic issues, so I try not to talk about fears with her. Instead I'd go to a few trusted friends. Maybe my sisters but I haven't had the need yet. I wouldn't do what FIL did.

Hiding medical problems is common for some folks, IMHO they fear hurting loved ones or seeing their pain. How many posts do we see from families that have dealt with someone hiding dementia?

I guess it would trouble me, to the extent of I can't break the trust. Obviously what if anything do you tell the families when they are grieving?
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:55 PM   #8
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A dear family friend kept her cancer diagnosis from her out of state family for years. She called them the week before she passed away to tell them that she was ill. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see them at the funeral. After seeing that, I know I couldn't withhold info from my friends and relatives.


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Old 02-03-2015, 06:10 AM   #9
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I wonder if there's an element related to age in LOL's tale. The age of the listener, that is.

I remember a funny line from an old thread, reporting an "organ recital" of health stories when the old-timers got together at family gatherings. Taking that observation a step farther, I think there is a social norm where folks are more likely to turn to health as a conversation topic as the age of the other party increases.

How old is your dog, LOL?
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:34 AM   #10
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Let me ask folks, do you find it easier to discuss your health issues with acquaintances rather than family and friends? Who are the people that confide in you? Who would you confide in?
Yes.

Most of my acquaintances are technical volk and we can discuss personal issues such as illness in cold, impersonal terms. The logic behind acceptance (at least for me) in these discussions is easy to digest without emotion.

OTOH, I have never discussed past diagnosis regarding cancer, diabetes and so forth with DW or other family. I think that would lead to "martyr" status for me and all sorts of sympathy, true or false, which I don't want. I would always be viewed with a critical eye. I'd rather life go on "normally" without the burden of guilt on anyone else.

Of course, the normal aches and pains can be shared. But I really don't want to burden anyone else with a guilt trip that should only be mine. Life is too much fun. And it will only get better once I'm ER'd. I don't want the gloomy music in the background.

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