What (not) to say when you’re visiting the sick

 by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

meWhile clinical psychologist Susan Silk was recuperating from surgery, she decided that she wasn’t feeling up to having any visitors. But when one of her work colleagues who really, really wanted to visit was asked to respect Susan’s request for privacy, her astonishing response to Susan was:

“This isn’t just about you!”

Well, actually, it was all about Susan, and only about Susan. Yet sometimes, our friends, family and other visitors seem to forget what to say – and what never to say – to people suffering a trauma, as Susan described in a Los Angeles Times article co-written with Barry Goldman last year.

In fact, her own experience as a patient prompted Susan to come up with a deceptively simple technique to help others avoid doing or saying the wrong thing. She claims that this technique works for all kinds of crises: medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. Susan calls it the Ring Theory: Continue reading “What (not) to say when you’re visiting the sick”

“I care about you” and other things to say to sick friends

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

In honour of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, I think I’ll snort some nitro spray. Oh, wait. Sorry. I mean, I think I’ll talk about what to say when somebody you care about is ill – rather than the well-meaning (but often annoying) greeting: “You look great!” 

When I’m having a really bad day, I’ve often thought that a lovely  neck brace or leg cast might come in handy. It would be like sporting a well-recognized outside sign that something is not quite right inside, because my cardiac symptoms are mostly invisible to others.

Continue reading ““I care about you” and other things to say to sick friends”

“You look great!” – and other things you should never say to heart patients

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

“Wow!  You look great!  You look just the same!”

In the early days, that was a fairly typical greeting from those who had not seen me for a while.  While some might assume that this is a thoughtful and flattering comment to offer a freshly-diagnosed heart attack survivor, many times it didn’t feel that way.

Surprised? Many people, especially in the early days, weeks and months while still reeling emotionally and physically from their life-altering cardiac train wreck, tell me that they often feel like replying to such greetings with:

“I am NOT the same!”

Instead of  the well-meant but oddly niggling “You look great!” – what might be more helpful to the freshly-diagnosed heart patient?   click to continue reading