Denial (D’ Nile) Is More than a RiverF. Amos Bailey, MD Jun 2, 2020
I think I learned this joke from the famous Dolly Parton, and it works better in my Southern accent. At least once a week I would hear someone say this in relationship to a patient or family member who seemed to have unrealistic expectations.
Although, denial is an important coping mechanism it can be problematic.
Earlier, this week a restaurant opened for Mother’s Day; the photos looked like a crowded restaurant that we used to see every Mother’s Day. They looked happy. It was dangerous.
A lot of people commented on how reckless this was, that these people were in denial. “What don’t they understand about COVID-19 and social-distancing?” Then I started to think of all of my patients with serious and life limiting disease who didn’t seem to take their illness as serious as they should, had unrealistic expectations and we would say they were in denial.
When I talked with these folks in more detail, almost always they knew. They knew they had cancer or some other illness, that time was short, but that they just needed to live a “normal LIFE” for a few hours or days. Sometimes denial was the only option. One patient said that “I can’t be a breast cancer patient, every second of every day. I would go CRAZY!”
As we enter our third month of COVID and pandemic some of us are going a little bit crazy. We miss our friends, our family, our work, and our life.
Perhaps, we all just need a little more understanding.
“Of not being afraid of your own heart beating
Do not be afraid of your own heart beating
Look at very small things with your eyes
& stay warm
Nothing outside can cure you but everything's outside”
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