What do I do, if anything, to help out a family friend who is in denial about her daughter's disease?
My hairdresser’s daughter has ulcerative colitis, the same chronic condition I have. The daughter is a few years younger than me, and we went to high school together, but I’ve never talked to her. Her mother is familiar with my situation, though.
When we go to get our hair done, the mother talks with my mom and me about her daughter’s illness, and over the years we’ve noticed her saying some really misguided things. Things like “we think she’ll grow out of it” and “she’s keeping really busy. She’s too busy to get sick.” It’s really obvious she’s in denial that disease doesn’t conform to your schedule, but Mom and I have never said anything to her about this, and in the past it never mattered because it always seemed like the daughter had fairly mild ulcerative colitis anyway.
I was surprised to find out today, however, that the daughter has just spent a week in the hospital because she was very ill, and she had to start taking the same heavy-duty drug that I used to take before surgery. This means her disease has gotten to be severe. Now she’s thinking about getting surgery. I have had the surgery, and I’m very happy with my decision to do so, but it is major surgery, it’s a big decision, and the process was a long and bumpy road. The girl’s mother seems to be laboring under the delusion that getting your colon out is a bit like getting your tonsils out, and this won’t be any big deal. I know that one should never give unasked-for advice, but it’s killing me to sit back and watch this girl and her mother go into this uninformed. Do I say anything? Just offer my shoulder to lean on? Mind my own business?