A Time To Share: When to Explain About Your Symptoms

“Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me. Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.” (Job 21:2-3)

It was Christmas Eve 2007 and here I sat in the doctor’s exam room. As most of you are keenly aware chronic illness never takes a holiday. Sitting across from the young, harried looking doctor I listed my migraine symptoms without emotion.

From past experience I knew that a prescription for a muscle relaxer was all that I needed to make it through the next few days. When I asked for the medication he looked right into my eyes and with no small amount of irritation he asked: “What are you so stressed about?”

Averting my gaze I mumbled: “I wish that I knew.” Once again a physician had attributed my symptoms to stress and in doing so questioned the legitimacy of my illness.

Sitting in my car afterward I reeled against his dismissive attitude. “Stressed?” I thought: “Stressed? What am I so stressed about? Is he kidding me? Well maybe I’m stressed because I haven’t been outside of a dark room for five days. Or maybe I’m stressed because my head hurts and no one is able to give me a definite diagnosis or treatment plan. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because once again my family will be celebrating Christmas without me.”

In Job 21 I find a more appropriate way to respond. When Job’s friends insulted him he countered their accusations with the truth. He didn’t back down. In Job21:2-3 he politely requests that his friends listen while he speaks and afterward they can “mock on.”

In this passage Job tells me two things. The first is that I need to stand up for myself. After all it’s not fair to expect another person to automatically know what I know about my illness. I need to explain.

The second is that my explanation may not change a person’s opinion of my illness. In that case I need to let it go. Allow the person to continue to “mock on” but determine that I will leave the encounter unscathed.

Prayer: Holy Father: I lift up this young doctor who did not understand my illness. I invite your presence into his life and into his medical practice. I pray that you bless him with the gift of healing with his hands and with his words.

About the Author:
Ramona Bracker is a retired nurse who lives in Iowa with her husband of 33 years. She has three grown sons and one lovely daughter-in-law. She has lived with chronic illness for 25 years.`

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Do you have experience with a physician who needs to learn how to heal with his words?