The Upside of Being Diagnosed


A diagnosis is a naming of something going on. Usually, a person can tell when something is not right with them. Usually, but not always.

I’m going to write about both scenarios, but first I’m addressing you if you know something is wrong. Some people choose to put their attention somewhere else and carry on with their lives. Others have symptoms come on that take over and force attention to be put on the problem.

Whether or not you are in the ‘attempting to ignore’ phase or the ‘paying attention’ phase, it is time for a diagnosis.

There are countless fairy tales, stories and mythology from the beginning of time that show us the importance knowing a name can have. From Rumpelstiltskin to Ursula Le Guin’s, Earth Sea Trilogy, stories tell us that a name has power. A diagnosis of what’s going on is only naming what already exists and can be the most empowering of experiences.

I also love mystery, and choosing mystery as a response to some of the inexplicable and unknown questions can be empowering, but when we are faced with illness and disease, a diagnosis is a gift.

Before Andy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease we were pretty lost in confusion, guilt and shame. Something was very wrong and we had no idea how to proceed. It felt like life was ending. I write in Dirty Little Secrets: A Love Story, “This was a difficult time riddled with confusing feelings. Our lives were compromised when our inability to conduct life the way it used to be became our everyday experience. Normality was unattainable and the orderliness of our life was severely disrupted.”

A diagnosis empowers the patient and their loved ones with choices and understanding, just like in regular life. A diagnosis is a new beginning and often can be the beginning of something better. In Andy’s case, I wrote, “We discovered he could be whole and healthy and also have a disease. The apparent disparate conditions were not mutually exclusive after all. This took us a long while to learn and his diagnosis was the very beginning of that revelation.”

Does anyone have personal experiences that support or refute my claim that a diagnosis can be empowering and the beginning of a strategy for better circumstances?