Controversial Conversations: A Chronically Ill Patient’s Perspective
Controversial conversations are never easy to navigate, regardless of age or experience, especially when engaging with people you love.
Since the start of the pandemic, the number of controversial conversations has increased, and the reactions to conflicting opinions have intensified. Social media disputes are often crass, cruel, and filled with vulgar language.
As a therapist, part of my job is to actively listen to clients and problem-solve with them from their point of view. So, I rarely deal with controversy in professional conversations. However, personal conversations about pandemic controversies leave me feeling unsettled and anxious.
Early on in the pandemic, many people refused to wear masks. A lot of inaccurate information circulated on the internet, and people developed their own theories about masks and whether they would actually protect against the virus.
Lately, controversial conversations focus on vaccines and their safety and effectivity. Unfortunately, the United States has a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, primarily among the unvaccinated. This seems to be changing the minds of some people who were previously skeptical. Nevertheless, many controversies still abound about the vaccine.
To be clear, this column doesn’t seek to convince you to wear a mask or get vaccinated. I try to respect that everyone has different opinions. But I believe in science, because my life depends on it.
In 2016 doctors diagnosed me with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a life-threatening lung disease without a cure. Disease management, and ultimately my survival, depend on current and developing therapies, research, and transplantation efforts driven by science.
I must believe in science. I’ve successfully survived the last five years on the advice, care, and support of doctors and researchers, along with many other allied healthcare professionals, many of whom are on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. So, I have a hard time when people choose to doubt or defy science-based advice given to curb the spread of COVID-19. This is why controversial conversations are so difficult for me to navigate.
Often hidden among the controversies about COVID-19, mask-wearing, and vaccines is an underlying negativity toward science. Chronically ill patients who wait desperately for a cure or treatment options for their disease can’t focus their limited energies on being negative toward science — we depend on scientists’ efforts too much. This is often something healthy people don’t understand, and they may not realize how their words can hurt us when in the thick of controversial conversations about COVID-19.
I would love to hear how you, as fellow chronically ill patients, are handling the controversial conversations you’re also likely having in your own personal circles. How do you have healthy conversations, and how do you cope amid the relationship-wounding controversies? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.