fear, Health, Staying Positive

Plane Crashes and Medical Advice

I received an excellent piece of advice the other day and it has struck me that I have been guilty of the precursor to this advice forever.  I think many might fall into the exact same trap and so I will share it with you today.

I was talking to a doctor who said the most insightful thing to me the other day…

As you know, I have been on a long journey of discovery all surrounding my Spinal CSF leak as I have been laid up in bed for a year now.  This horrible ordeal started in March 2016 and I was finally treated for the exact thing my GP thought it was almost 11 months later.

In all my searching, my brain seems to often go to ‘I wonder if I exercised too hard that day? Was it because I moved all that furniture? How long has it been that I had been having weird and more painful headaches? Maybe I was having this for much longer? Was it a scuba trip when my ears wouldn’t clear and I had too much pressure?’

The doctor said to me: ‘Doctors want to look at illness as an accident scene.  They want to evaluate how the plane crashed rather than just working on getting you better for your next flight’

And it hit me!

“Why are you so interested in finding out how the plane crashed?”

In other words…why do we need to find a source or attribute blame for an illness?

I found myself the very next few days dealing with another ‘accident scene’ by way of a stomach flu.  My husband got terribly ill from something, and then next was me, and there we were ‘Was it the hot dog? Could it have been the ice cream? (OK seriously it was a terrible eating day, I admit, but we are human)! Was it from the lady that was eating near us, did she look like she had a flu? Is there a virus going around?’

We became the exact same ‘Crime Scene Investigators’ that the doctor had warned me about.  I became fixated on not repeating the actions or being in the places that had brought on the illness without realizing that it just doesn’t matter where the virus or bacteria originated.  The goal was to get over the bug and to get better.  Sometimes we do not need to dissect every tiny aspect of a problem and move to solution and recovery…the why is just not as important.

I think it’s fine to sit back and reflect once things settle down.  Once we are on the other side, we may have a lot of time on our hands to identify a cause…but when I was in the thick of things, I can honestly say….I spent a lot of time trying to find out why my plane crashed. (I will also add, when dealing with other illnesses, especially communicable disease, of course, the investigation needs to look at pathogens, transfer, sources, etc. It just does not always apply).

As a patient looking for reasons is not the worst thing you can do with your time…but as a physician it is costly for patients to try to attribute a reason (or even blame sometimes) for the illness.  If it ends up being the ‘fault’ of the patient how will that leave them off when all is said and done? Is it good for morale or healing for a patient to feel that they are somehow ‘to blame’?  I would argue that it is likely detrimental to patients for them to ever feel that they are responsible for their illnesses unless there is a 1:1 correlation of actions to symptoms.

My mother died of cancer many years ago and I can remember her asking me if I thought she had done it to herself and as a 26 year old, I said to her ‘you know….it could have been as simple as you sneezed on your 16th birthday when the wind was blowing from the West and a frog leapt onto the right toe of your black patent leather shoe’.

Somehow then…I knew that ‘how her plane crashed was not important’….

In many cases, that ‘black box’ will just never reveal the secret….and it is best left that way.

Moving on to your next flight is far more positive and healing.

Love Ingrid x

#loveiseverywhere   #csfleak     #kindness    #love     #healing


4 thoughts on “Plane Crashes and Medical Advice

  1. There is often a mentality of “blame the victim” when it comes to cancer. Accepting it is the hardest part! Love your columns Ingrid. Best,Deirdre

  2. Great insight, Ingrid. Thanks for the reminder.
    How are since your procedure earlier in the month?

  3. I love this. As someone with a congenital defect I spent a bit of time in my youth wondering what my mother did when she was pregnant with me. I was stuck in that whole origin-searching for a while but eventually realized it was fruitless and moved on with my life. Now there are entire teams researching congenital heart defects. It’s important research because sometimes the things they find impact the ability to “fix it” in utero (yup, it’s happened). And sometimes, there are no answers but we learn to be comfortable with the unknown. Thanks Ingrid!!

Comments are closed.