ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Advice For Coping with Unexpected Illness

Updated on July 3, 2017

Many, many years ago I was in a car crash where I broke my neck, collapsed both lungs, split my head open and broke my little toe. A friend wrote me a letter similar to the one below.

I had been in ICU for several weeks at the time and would remain there for another month. There would be more hospitals, surgeries, and rehabilitation work before it was done. I don't know any of this then.

An Unusual Perspective

I did know that a machine was breathing for me and that I would never walk again. My friend's letter was very comforting and useful because she spoke to the reality of my situation without sentiment or false hope. I read it over and over again.

The letter below isn't exactly the same but it is similar in tone and content to the original. I wrote this one to the brother of a coworker who is struggling with a long hospitalization from an unexpected illness.

It is my deepest desire that this will be useful to him and I include it here with the hope it will be useful to someone else.

The Letter

Dear -- --

This is the hardest part of being ill. The waiting. It is a limbo land where all the days seem to blend together. There is no sense of progress. You have to wait for the tests and the results and the diagnosis and the doctor’s opinions and for the medication to work or not work. It seems as if none of this is within your control and that can make you feel powerless and angry. I’ve been there.

But you’re not powerless. Waiting is your job right now. It takes effort to be mindful of yourself and your body. It takes discipline to store up positive effort to help direct yourself toward healing. It is waiting with intent.

This gray time of not knowing is when you must be most on guard against the fear. It creeps in and worries at the edges of the mind. It tells you that only bad things will happen and from that more bad things. It plays on your imagination and exploits the side effects of the illness and the medication.

It's only natural to be concerned about the future. But right now no plans can be made with surety. It is a waiting time. Try not to dwell on the unknown. If you can, find a calm place in your heart and your head where you can let events unfold. Put your energy there. Regardless of physical condition, it is always the mind directs you. I expect you may already know this.

I hope you can find your patience with the world around you while all these health matters sort themselves out. I wish for you the courage and strength to face what comes.


For What It Is Worth

As you can read, this is not your usual get well letter. The original spoke to me because it addressed the fear I had about the future. It also helped me find a way to participate in my own healing at a time when I truly felt I was powerless and victimized.

It's been 41 years since I got that letter. The friend who wrote it has passed on. I revisit her letter a few times a year because I've found that fear is always lurking about. It is a constant struggle to live in this world as I choose and my friend's advice always helps me find a path. I have long lost touch with the person I sent my letter to so I can only hope that he has also made a path for himself.

Photograph of pen and paper by Linda Cronin from Flickr


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)