Overcoming Health Care Uncertainty Part I: Interactions with Loved Ones

Uncertainty takes on many forms, and with each situation, the stakes can be completely different. In each case, though, the common link is the perceived lack of control of our lives, and the anxiety that comes along with it. When you feel begin to feel the effects of the stress, it can be helpful to turn to an established set of strategies to shift the focus from emotions to actions. In this piece we hope to help you as you interact with loved ones as you face a health care challenge; next time we will address providers.

We all probably have been in the unenviable position of having a car break down. Consider what happened after you pulled over. Your first thought probably was, “This can’t be happening.” After you accepted the reality of knowing your life has come to a standstill, the communication probably began. You call to inform family members, get help from professionals, and reschedule events. Then you waited; then you probably made more calls and then waited some more. Maybe you knew exactly what was wrong with the car; maybe you did not. It did not really matter. All you know is that you felt stuck, helpless, and stressed. All the while, cars—and people and their busy lives—zoomed by as you sat there with a resigned look on your face.

What happens to people when the situations of uncertainty become far more complex and serious than a broken down vehicle? In particular, what if a person’s life gets stuck because of a health care issue? What if routine appointment and screening turns into a diagnosis of an advanced disease? What if a patient is discharged from the hospital, and instead of departing with the peace of mind that comes with improved health and questions answered, the person leaves filled with fear and confusion? The serious physical issues aside, communication gaps can greatly amplify the stress.

At OnPulse, we have seen first-hand what occurs when there are breakdowns in communication in the treatment cycle. From the point of view of patients, we know that uncertainty leads to impulsive decision-making, and in a larger sense, contributes to unravelling of dreams. We have had the opportunity to help clients as they interact with both loved ones and providers to make decisions.

To manage uncertainty and alleviate its discomfort, we at OnPulse suggest the following actions for our clients:

  1. Achieve clarity, by making a detailed, written list of concerns, challenges, options, and outcomes. Delineate how specific decisions will impact your life vision, family, job, and finances. And if you need help from others putting all of this together, seek it.

  2. Become resolved, by making decisions with those you love and trust. Make sure that your confidants completely comprehend your dreams and goals. We have seen countless people make unfortunate decisions based on advice given by trusted sources who really did not understand the client’s aspirations.

  3. Obtain support, by surrounding yourself with people who are committed to going the distance with you. Stick with your process and plan, yet do not hesitate to adjust your goals as new information arises.

If you ever need help or have any questions about how to deal with uncertainty, please do not hesitate to call us. We would feel privileged to help.

To learn more about how OnPulse can help you achieve clarity, become resolved and feel truly supported - contact us today!