How to build a connected support network for chronic illnessMay 02, 2023
It didn’t feel right.
When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the process was faultless. After an appointment with a neurologist, he was concerned that the tingling sensation in my leg had now moved to my torso. Within a week, I was admitted to hospital for an MRI and lumbar puncture.
I was then delivered the devastating news. MS was to be part of my life forever. Information booklets were left for me to read back at home. A follow-up appointment was made to discuss treatment options. I felt numb. I felt no connection with the medical team.
A few months later, my diagnosis became real. I had my first experience of the disconnect between my mind wanting to walk and my legs being unable to move freely. The problem was I was in a business suit and heels, trying to move and work out what was happening in front of an office filled with people.
My next move I know, changed my life forever.
Instead of calling up my neurologist to make an appointment, I headed to a nearby women’s clinic. I asked the doctor for a referral to a new neurologist, explaining that I needed someone I could build a connection with. To my surprise, she opened the Yellow Pages (this was back in 1998!), and a neurologist’s name stood out, he was a lecturer at university. What sold me at the time was her simple comment, “He is absolutely lovely!”. That was that, I had a feeling he would be a good one.
For over 15 years, during some of the darkest times in my life, this incredible neurologist guided me with his astute medical knowledge (at the time, we didn’t know that he specialised in MS). But it was his mindset that gave me the confidence that I could have an impact on my experience. In the year 2000, not only did I use my determination in rehab to regain my mobility, but I had the confidence to embrace life. The following year I took off by myself for an adventure of a lifetime, living in Edinburgh for a year. As my neurologist said, he was only a phone call away.
Thank goodness I listened to my intuition and recognised the importance of building the right support team in living with chronic illness.
How to use your intuition to create the ideal support team for your chronic illness journey
By intuition I mean that gut feeling or inner voice that helps guide you towards decisions and choices that feel right for you. Utilising your intuition plays a pivotal role in forming a support network that aligns with your personality and outlook and enables you to thrive despite living with chronic illness.
You can do this by:
❤️ Observing emotional reactions: Pay attention to your emotions when interacting with potential support network members, as your intuition can guide you towards those who make you feel comfortable, understood, and supported.
🧡 Reflecting on compatibility: Ask yourself whether the professional genuinely cares about your wellbeing, communicates effectively, and shares a similar mindset. Your intuition can help you evaluate compatibility and identify the best fit for your needs.
💚 Learning from past experiences: Use your intuition to recognise patterns from previous interactions with healthcare providers or support groups. By understanding what worked and what didn't, you can make more informed decisions when building your support network.
I have used my intuition in building the support network in dealing with my new challenge: Stage 4 breast cancer.
When I discovered the lump in my breast, I made an appointment with a new female doctor who instantly made me feel at ease. Her empathetic approach to delivering the difficult news further strengthened our connection. As we discussed the next steps, she asked if I had any preference for a surgeon. I didn’t. My doctor then mentioned a surgeon that patients have said is delightful and was always prompt in providing medical reports and correspondence. I had an inner knowing that this was the surgeon for me.
Today I am supported by a network of three amazing female medical professionals - my local doctor, surgeon, and oncologist. Does this make me lucky? No. Instead, by trusting my intuition, I have surrounded myself by caring, personable, optimistic and talented professionals to help me to live well with stage 4 breast cancer.
Unlocking the benefits of a connected support network for chronic illness
I encourage you to use your intuition to help you to build a connected support network of medical professionals. But also allied health providers, therapeutic practitioners, and online communities. This will provide the following benefits and enable you to thrive with chronic illness.
❤️ Emotional wellbeing: A connected support network understands your challenges, providing empathy and encouragement, which positively impacts your emotional wellbeing and resilience.
🧡 Empowering mindset: Aligning with professionals who share a positive, proactive mindset fosters a sense of control and confidence in managing your chronic illness.
💚 Trust and collaboration: When you value and trust the opinions of your support network, it enables open communication, collaboration, and personalized care, leading to better health outcomes.
Remember, to enjoy these benefits, when building your support network, tap into your intuition by: observing your emotional reactions; reflecting on compatibility; and learning from past experiences.
Are you ready to build a supportive community that understands and empowers you through your journey with chronic illness?
Become a part of the Hurdle2Hope community today and connect with others facing similar challenges. Together, we can overcome the obstacles and flourish despite our chronic illnesses. Sign up now below to take the first step towards a more resilient and brighter future! Don't forget to follow Hurdle2Hope on Instagram for daily inspiration, support, and connection.