Thursday Health Thoughts: Doctors out of State/Country Series-Part Five- Answering the "critics" about out of state/country travel to see a doctor

July 17, 2014

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Happy Thursday y'all!! I am so excited to continue this six part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to seeing doctors out of state or country. Here is the list of the topics for the series and the coming weeks:

Today I wanted to address the reality of the land of "the critics" that will inevitably arrive in your life if you decide to make the decision to travel out of state or the country to see a doctor. I am hoping that some of the things that I have learned the last couple of years might help someone and also I am excited to hear from y'all who have experience with this! (Side note: No offense to any of my doctors but since NONE of them have ever looked like this guy or I think we would have the answer of why I am traveling to a different state for the critics! Right? Hahaha! *smiles* This single gal can dream right? *smiles*)

**This post is related to critical comments with traveling out of state or country to see a doctor but could definitely be applied to those that are using a variety of forms of treatment and receive criticism. I hope it is encouraging to you!**

I almost cringed when I realized that this was the topic for the post today. It was ironic because in my post from yesterday (when I gave an update on my personal health) I announced that I had two upcoming trips out of state. The first is a required visit to my Lyme Doctor's office and the second is a necessary trip back to Whitaker Wellness Institute for additional therapy. I told a good friend of mine that I "brace myself" because every time that I write a "Notes from the Porch" update that involves travel out of state I inevitably will hear from the "critics". They don't comment publicly but I will receive many emails criticizing my choice to see a doctor so far away, criticizing my asking for financial support, and even one yesterday criticized my request for prayers. Unfortunately on some days the critics can see "much bigger" then the voices of support and I have learned that this is the case for many people with chronic illnesses (or serious illnesses that last for more than 18 months). I have received numerous emails asking me, "How do you respond when someone says..." or, "I am hurting so much because someone said..." so today I wanted to share some thoughts on the top three frequently asked questions by the critics for traveling out of state or country to see a doctor and some responses that might help you navigate these tricky waters. 

Question #1 by the critics:
Don't you think that the doctors in (our beloved state) are good enough for you? 
This is a tough question to answer because at the heart of it there is a bit of criticism in the choice that you must feel that you are "better" then the numerous qualified doctors in the state that you live in. My best advice for this question is to remain calm, explain patiently the unique reasons that the numerous qualified doctors in your state can't help you and explain that this is your only option at this moment. 

Question #2 by the critics:
My sisters friend's aunt had what you had and they received excellent care and were better much quicker than you are because they stayed in state. Where the heck are you going?
This question can be tricky to answer because you never want to critize another person's wonderful experience with a good doctor. At the same time though anyone with a chronic illness knows and understands that the path to "stability" or healing can look entirely different from one friend to another. I have a dear friend who struggles with Lupus and hears this question all of the time. She says that it is truly incredibly hurtful because while her state does provide doctors who are very knowledgeable and capable with Lupus she has additional health issues that need a different kind of specialist with her condition. For her it is not as simple as just seeing "any" doctor. The best advice that she gave when responding to this question is to simply state that "due to a variety of reasons and health complications I need a doctor out of state" and try to move on. This question is hurtful though and I applaud each of you that answers it with dignity!

Question #3 by the critics:
So... you are going to fundraise money again to go travel to... 
This is the question/statement that I probably get the most and hear from others that they receive the most. It's difficult because it implies that you are "traveling" for the fun of it to another state (hello- anyone that is struggling with illness finds traveling difficult!!!) and that this almost implies you are fund-raising just so you can travel. First, to all of the critics this is not the case and if this is the direction of the email I will state that I am not traveling to travel but I am going to a doctors appointment. (We would never say to someone going to a doctors appointment in their own city that they are "traveling" so I try to remove that word from the discussion but also directly respond to it.)

When I wrote my post yesterday I was literally emotionally bracing myself for the response since I mentioned that I would be taking two out of state visits and am fund-raising again for the latter trip. Out of the 23 critical messages that I received yesterday this question/statement was said in about 20 of the emails. Its hard because as I shared yesterday it is incredibly humbling to lay your heart on the line and state that you need financial support. I can only imagine that the "critics" have never been in a situation where those that are fund raising are or they would never send emails like the ones that I received yesterday. Before I became ill I never questioned things like this but would hear those that were ill sometimes address this and I thought, "who would say things like that?". Unfortunately now I have experienced it. If you are the recipient of this question you know that you feel like you have to almost "justify" your time that you spend. It is irritating, hurtful, and difficult to deal with. I never would have thought to have the need to do this with someone asking for help or money but unfortunately the question implies this. 

I want to tell the critics (which I guess I am going to now *hahaha*) I am not simply laying around eating bonbons or just lazily watching TV. In fact my day is extremely structured due to not only medications and doctors appointments but due to the fact that I am working incredibly hard to bring in every single penny that I can. I am constantly working on freelance writing articles, items for my shop, custom orders, trying to promote the shop or the parcel post tribe, and trying desperately to bring money in. I personally hate TV (you can ask any of my family members), I can't eat bonbons, and the days that I am in extreme pain? Well I am in bed still working on things because finances are always on my mind and at the top of the prayer list. The financial aspect of Lyme Disease is complicated, tricky, and extremely emotional. For the record (and to help bring understanding) I haven't bought "new" clothes in over two years (I love thrifting and have spent a total of $15 in the last two years at a thrift store- and that was only because due to certain medications I have gained weight and none of my clothes fit), I have had my hair cut twice in the past 23 months, haven't bought things that people would call "necessities" (such as extra shampoo or conditioner, fancy girly items, or simply bought lotions or had my nails done or my eyebrows waxed in forever, etc. etc. etc.), we don't go out to eat or get Starbucks (except if there are giftcards sent by a dear friend), I wear my glasses to extend the life of my contacts until I get a migraine to save money, we obsess over every single penny as a family to see where and what we can do "without" (sometimes its milk, sometimes its food, sometimes its not using the car to save gas...) and nothing absolutely nothing is frivolous. (And we never were a frivolous sort of family so we have gone even more extreme. If you haven't had to fund-raise for your health then you have absolutely no idea the humility it takes to ask and lay everything out in the open.  My best advice for those that receive this criticism is to calmly respond. I usually state something like, "At this time this is the decision that I have made for my health. Kind Regards, Rebecca" and I refuse to engage. Those that care about you are not going to be critical even when they have questions and it is definitely not worth your energy to respond to things like this. For emails that are extremely critical and harsh (yesterday I received one that said: "If God wanted you to go back out to California you wouldn't have to ask others for money God would have already given it to you and you are being just lazy", simply delete them. It is definitely not worth your energy for that kind of negativity in your life. Cry if you need to (I certainly did yesterday), delete the emails, and move on. 

I hope that this helps y'all! The best thing that I can share is to stay strong and lean on the love of those who care about you and love you in your journey! It's hard to believe that we are wrapping up this series next Thursday!! Where have the six weeks gone?? Join me next Thursday for the final posting in this series! Happy Thursday y'all!!

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