Learning to Live with Uncertainty
Most people, healthy or not, live with uncertainty in their lives. You may get a good job, marry a fine person, and have children, but you are never certain of what the future holds. There is an element of uncertainty inherent to living.
People who have chronic illnesses have another layer of uncertainty to deal with. Most people with chronic illnesses, if given the opportunity, would preview their life five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years down the road. You can't — so that's akin to wishing for what you know you can't have. Rather than focusing on the future, you should be focusing on the present.
Focus on what you can do now, as well as decisions that will have positive effects now (e.g., lose weight, exercise, good sleep). The positive effects that result from focusing on the present will hopefully carry over to the future.
What You Would Like to Know for Sure
The questions you may want to ask have no definitive answers: How long before you will become disabled? How long before you will have to stop working? How long will you be able to care for yourself? How long before you need more help? Will you become more disabled than your neighbor? Will it ever get better? The questions are rooted in feelings of anxiety. Uncertainty breeds anxiety.
Set realistic goals for how you can help yourself now. It's somewhat unhealthy to be preoccupied with the uncertain future, because that takes your efforts away from thinking in the present.
Set goals about your current treatment regimen. Are you satisfied with the response you are having to treatment? If not, how long are you willing to wait before you deem the treatment unsatisfactory? Be prepared to adjust your current treatment plan when necessary.
You should plan for long-term security. Make financial decisions that will bring you a sense of financial security at some point. If losing your job and becoming disabled are your worst-case scenarios, plan for the day and hope it never comes.
If you think you may need a caregiver at some point, plan for the day. It may give you peace to make plans and prepare for every possible contingency, but is it practical to do that?
With eyes wide open, prepare for your future security, but live in the moment. Always focus on improving your current situation. Richard P. Feynman once said, “I can live with doubt and uncertainty. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.” Carpe diem!