When I was growing up my parents taught me that honesty was the best policy, and I taught my children the same but now as I grow older I wonder if that is entirely correct. I am not advocating lies, deceit or dishonesty as a way of avoiding the consequences of one’s actions but to suggest that a degree of being less than honest is OK in certain circumstances.
Before we even get started, let me stress that total honesty is an absolute necessity when talking to your Health Care Professional (HCP)- if they don’t have the complete story, you cannot get the appropriate and necessary treatment. With that being said, it’s important to sometimes ask yourself just how honest you are being with your friends and family when it comes to your MS. Do you share your ups and downs (especially the downs) with your nearest and dearest?
Personally, I am less than honest with my wife Jean. If my MS is ‘acting up’ there is very little, if anything, that she can do in terms of corrective action and any such disclosure will only add to her worry load. In other words, there will be no benefit for me and a decided dis-benefit for her. Do I feel guilty about being disingenuous? No, because it is with the best of intentions but read on and you will discover the real reason I no longer feel guilty.
I will only disclose problems when disclosure becomes unavoidable. When I do mention a change in symptoms Jean realises that it is serious and that I had to tell her. Eventually, I realise that she has known for some time and has been watching me surreptitiously while biding her time and waiting for me to tell her ‘officially’. It was only whilst writing this post that I realised the truth of my situation; Jean has chosen to let me live in my ‘slightly dishonest’ world where I think I am the super hero protecting her from my bad stuff. She is perceptive and she notices.
I had my eyes checked recently to adjust my prescription glasses and it was only after the optician declared that my optic nerves were fine did I tell Jean that I had been slightly worried before the examination but I had not mentioned the problem because one of us worrying was more than enough.
I don’t share my bad stuff unless I have to and that is only when the invisible symptoms become visible signs and thus noticeable. I avoid contact with non-family members during my less than good days not for reasons of vanity but because I don’t want the pity that will be associated with my perceived progression.
I don’t want to suffer in silence – in fact I don’t want to suffer at all and I certainly don’t want to be dishonest, particularly with my family, but what choice do I have? My attitude toward disclosure is a clear indication that the old proverb “A problem shared is a problem halved” is not entirely accurate.
Do you share all of your symptoms with your nearest and dearest?