Illness & Control

Once we are old enough (and mature enough) to be independent of our parents, we strive to have control in our life, a factor vital to our happiness and self-esteem.  We make personal decisions regarding our career, friendships, lifestyle and geographic location.  Should love strike, some personal control must yield to compromise but partners soon learn that granting each other a reasonable degree of freedom is essential to sustaining the relationship.

Unfortunately, our need for control may be challenged by external factors such as accidents, social upheaval and natural disasters.  At some point in our lives, almost all of us face serious medical illnesses and those that are life-threatening are especially prone to upend our sense of control.  While management plans often have a calming effect, the knowledge that unseen pathology is smoldering beneath the surface, likely to erupt at some point, threatens our self-confidence.  Treatment schedules and dietary restrictions disrupt our lifestyle and the effects of the disease, or of the medications used to treat it, alter our sense of well being.

By staying informed, adhering to a therapeutic regimen and developing contingency plans, we retain some degree of control.  Nevertheless, medicine is an inexact science and illnesses do not always unfold as expected.  More than the symptoms themselves, the loss of control in our life is perhaps the most unsettling aspect of disease, however mild or severe it might be.