I found this New York Times story compelling — selfishly — as someone recently largely confined to quarters recovering from a bad bout of osteoarthritis and a back spasm. Two friends, both self-employed writers, one living in a fourth-floor walk-up, are also at home with their own back issues. Comparing notes, checking in with one another and commiserating has made it more bearable.
Thank heaven for email and Facebook!
A diagnosis of a chronic or terminal illness is bad enough — but the added, enforced social, physical and emotional isolation that often comes with it can make things a lot worse.
If you are, as many are, much younger than those typically facing a specific illness or condition, friends in your peer group may have no idea what you face, and may find it depressing or frightening to discuss.
If no one in your family has it — my Dad, 80, and I are comparing athritis meds these days! — who really understands your daily struggles?
You need people who get it and can help:
For many people, social networks are a place for idle chatter about what they made for dinner or sharing cute pictures of their pets. But for people living with chronic diseases or disabilities, they play a more vital role.
“It’s really literally saved my life, just to be able to connect with other people,” said Sean Fogerty, 50, who has multiple sclerosis, is recovering from brain cancer and spends an hour and a half each night talking with other patients online.
People fighting chronic illnesses are less likely than others to have Internet access, but once online they are more likely to blog or participate in online discussions about health problems, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation.
“If they can break free from the anchors holding them down, people living with chronic disease who go online are finding resources that are more useful than the rest of the population,” said Susannah Fox, associate director of digital strategy at Pew and author of the report.
They are gathering on big patient networking sites like PatientsLikeMe, HealthCentral, Inspire, CureTogether and Alliance Health Networks, and on small sites started by patients on networks like Ning and Wetpaint.
Have social media helped you cope with an illness or injury?