One thing the COVID pandemic has revealed is just how ageist our society is. Another? There’s a widespread lack of awareness about just how many people are living with ongoing health issues. According to Statistics Canada, nearly half of Canadians aged 51 to 60 have one to three ‘high impact’ chronic conditions.
In other words, there’s a good chance that one day, you or a loved one will join those ranks too.
And if so, you may be surprised by the emotional and psychological fall-out.
Take Carolyn Thomas, a heart attack survivor who has written extensively about her experience in the hopes of helping other women navigate life after a diagnosis of heart disease.
In one of her Heart Sisters blogs, she describes an incident that occurred a few weeks after her life changed forever. “I stormed around the apartment one day in a fit of pique, gathering up all my get-well cards and bouquets. I trashed the lot of them. I didn’t want any reminders in my home that some kind of invalid lived here. I was sick of being sick. I wanted my old life back, thank-you very much. It didn’t work, by the way. I was still a heart patient.”
That said, there are things you can do to help adjust to your new reality. Number one: recognizing that it’s not uncommon to struggle a bit at the start.
Thank-you so much to the interviewees who so kindly shared their time and expertise:
- Lene Andersen, author of books several books, including Chronic Christmas, who blogs at The Seated View.
- Dr. Michael J. Coons, PhD, a clinical health and rehabilitation psychologist with the Health Collaborative in Burlington, Ont., and a staff psychologist with the medical bariatric program and diabetes clinic at St. Joseph’s Health Care Hamilton.
- Dr. Peter Prior, PhD, a psychologist with the cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention program at St. Joseph’s Health Care London; associate scientist at the Lawson Research Institute, and an adjunct clinical professor in the department of psychology at Western University in London, Ont.