A Patient’s Perspective: Focus

If focus is defined as the center of interest or activity then I’m all about the focus.

My life is a balancing act between too much focus and not enough focus. As if that’s not enough of a challenge, as a chronic pain patient I often become so focused on one thing that everything else disappears.

Sometimes that pain is so bad it’s all I can focus on. I can’t and don’t focus on anything else. I’m angry at everything, including myself, because I can’t do anything but be about the pain. And, when the pain lessens, and after the initial relief subsides, I look around and see the damage that pain … and my ultra-focus and non-focus … has wreaked on my world.

I’ll be honest, I don’t always know what to focus on. I don’t always know when to focus on something and when to stop. And, there are times I don’t have the wherewithal to focus on anything at all.

I’m often told to focus on what I can do; don’t focus on the pain.

I’m often told to focus on the positive; don’t focus on where my disease is going to take me.

I’m often told to focus on what we are going to do next to manage pain and hold off further damage; don’t focus on what damage is being done to my body and organs every day.

It seems as though everyone has a different idea about what I should focus on; what I shouldn’t focus on. Fair enough, because I have a definite idea about what should be focused on and what shouldn’t.

Case in point: Am I too focused when I’m concerned about whether the red, puffy incision sites from my surgery are looking worse? Am I not focused enough because I didn’t wipe off one of the incision sites after a shower? Did I lose focus too soon? Am I focused too much on how the sites are healing?

Case in point: Am I too focused on whether the physician is paying appropriate and adequate attention to my current concern? Am I not focused enough on the fact that the physician is actually taking notes while I am speaking? Did I focus on the wrong things, not enough things, or what?

Case in point: Am I too focused on being a patient that other parts of my life haven’t had any attention in quite a while? Am I not focused enough because I just can’t seem to get a handle on all the moving parts of my health portfolio?

Here’s the thing: Focus is all a matter of perspective … and it’s always a good idea to consider the other person’s perspective. You could say what is too much focus for one person or situation is just the right amount for another. You could say I have a right to determine the amount of focus I place on anything to do with me. Consider, however, that sometimes what I’m really interested is not paying more or less focus on something, but rather, asking someone else if it is the correct amount of focus.

When I asked about my incision sites, I was told what to look for, when to be concerned, and what to do about it. I had a checklist. I had a plan. It gave me peace of mind so I could focus on other things. Sometimes, that’s all I need … a clear idea of what I should be looking for.

Remember, there’s always a reason for my focus … often it’s pain, fear, a missing piece of information. With fulsome, meaningful, and respectful consideration I can have the kind of conversation with my care team that ensures we are all focused on the best thing at the right time … maybe even at the same time ….

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