Saturday, January 8, 2011

Find Your Lifeline, Sailor - It's Out There

It’s been months – probably way over a year – since I’ve logged into the online parent support group that was my lifeline through the worst of my child’s health crisis. During those times, it was a godsend (and an inspiration for beginning this blog).

After really bad days, when my child was finally sleeping peacefully, I would scroll through posts. Drained emotionally, it was somehow comforting to read about other people working through their own daily struggles.

I felt very alone during those years, when friends and neighbors couldn’t fully understand why we could never commit to socializing until we saw how our child felt that day – and even then would likely cancel at the last minute when things took a turn for the worse. At least online, someone else was also home at the computer, having rushed out in the middle of the school play, or abruptly left the ballgame, because of a sick child.

I also felt vindicated to see other parents searching for demanding improved quality of life for their child, over and above simply counteracting the physical symptoms of the illness. That issue alone made the parent message board indispensible. It filled a knowledge gap that our healthcare team didn’t seem to be able to address.

Having help is critical during a health crisis or chronic illness. But even the support of family and friends to cook meals, take a turn sitting with the patient, to lend a shoulder to cry on, doesn’t bring the same comfort as sharing thoughts with someone living the same bad dream. Sharing the experience– even with a stranger online – makes getting through each day (or even each hour) that much easier to accomplish.

Whatever condition is disrupting your life, do a search for online support. It’s there 24/7 and will open your world to all kinds of possibilities for managing, coping, and healing. Most likely the best place to start is the national non-profit dedicated to your circumstances (and every medical condition has one). Click here for a list – and feel free to drop a line to add any we may have missed.

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