How to deal with bad medical news

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

How to deal with bad medical news

"I am sorry to inform you this but you won't be able to live a perfectly normal life from now on"

How does this sound like?
If you have ever been delivered bad medical news then you know exactly it feels like to hear such a statement. Suddenly you might feel that you are different and that your life is never going to be the same!

Bad medical news i got a week ago

I exercise since 13 years and i don't remember i ever stopped for more than one week during the 13 years unless i was severely ill. Few days ago a doctor told me "I am sorry but you have to give up weight lifting, i know this might be a shock but it will take some time before you adapt to your new life"

For me, this was the worst piece of bad news i ever heard since i was born. Because exercising for me is like breathing i went to see another doctor. When i didn't like what they both said i went to a third one and a forth and a fifth one.

Here is what the last one told me while holding my MRI (something like X-ray but for the back) "This is nonsense, who told you to quit exercising?"

Doctor: "Do you feel any pain?"
Me: No !
Doctor: "Go, burn this MRI and do whatever you want!"

So why the bad medical news turned out to be good news?

By the way, when the doctor told me to do what i want i didn't believe him because that was too good to be true so i went to another one who told me the same thing.

Now the question is, why the bad news turned out to be good news? and why did the first doctor saw things in a pessimistic way?

Here are the answers:

  • 1) I refused to accept bad news: A same friend of mine had the same exact problem. He went to the first doctor who told him that he have to quit and at this point he decided to give up! Its not that refusing to accept bad news will help you find good news but its just that once you refuse to give up you always find a way out! This way out might be a pact to heal yourself or another visit to a more rational doctor. In short, Bad news becomes real when you decide to accept it (see Why do people give up).
  • 2) I understood that doctors are humans: The first doctor believed that i will be extreemly careless if he left the door open, that's why he decided to put me down to prevent me from doing any damage to my health without realizing how important the gym was for me. Sometimes doctors will give you bad news as a result of the impression they got about you. If they felt that you might be a risk taker they might give you bad news on intention just to slow you down! This works sometimes but for some people it does more harm than good. (see also Communicating properly with people)
  • 3) Doctors have different personalities I am against smoking but if you asked two different doctors about its health effects one might tell you that nothing will happen to you while the second might tell you that you will get lung cancer. Both doctors are right but their answers came in line with their personalities. Some people are extreemly cautions and conservative by nature. When they become doctors they give extreemly cautions advice. Others are risk takers who can give you much space to do what you want. In short, what doctors say are not pure facts but they are the combination of facts and their own personal views about life (see How to understand people personality)
  • 4)People are different!: No two medical cases are the same. My mom was told that she has to undergo immediate operation in her arm else she will experience tremendous pain. That was like 10 years ago, she didn't do the operation and she is fine with no pain (Thanks God). Even if your close friend got diagnosed with a certain health problem because he used to do a certain habit then this doesn't mean that you will get that same problem. Many people die from car accidents, does this mean that all people who drive fast die in their cars? Some people drive fast then die in bed while some others drive slow and die on the road
  • 5) Your reality is dependent on your beliefs: Andy north was told that he can never walk again without crutches. Few years later he got rid of them and became a well known golf champion! In short, accepting bad news make it a part of your reality while refusing to accept it will make other alternatives appear in front of you (see How to make life fair to you)

Should you deny the facts?

I know that some people will get this article wrong and that's why i decided to add this section. Am i asking you to deny the facts?

Of course not but i am just asking you to believe that every health problem can be solved. Once you think that there is no way out you will adapt to this new life and it will become your reality. On the other hand, when you believe that you can heal you will find yourself encountering other solutions that you would have never came across with your defeated mentality. (see How to recover from defeat)

So what about me?
I am back to the Gym : ) but i just became more conservative and i gave up few dangerous exercises.

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