Diagnoses are great. They give our aches, pains and unexplainable but very scary symptoms a nice name (preferably in Latin, so we don't understand) and make them easier to accept. Living with chronic illness means you probably have one or many diagnoses, and every time you need medical help you get help for your diagnoses - not for you. The name of my illness provides a much-needed distance between ME and the PROBLEM.
The diagnosis is like a badge. The doctor gives it to you and you stick it on your chest, or forehead, or chuck it in the trash can... wherever you like. If you don't get a diagnosis, chances are you won't get any help either, so you have to keep working to get one because however sick you are, you aren't "really" sick until somebody has pinned your disease down and given it a name.
This is one of the situations where there's a humongous difference between acute and chronic illness. An acute diagnosis is very useful, you wear the badge for a while, and then you get well and remove the badge - chuck the diagnosis out. You're well. But very many people today live with chronic diagnoses - they may stick with us our entire life. Then it becomes essential to define yourself apart from your disease.
Who are you, really? Who are you without the symptoms, without the definitions, hospital visits and pill boxes? Who are you as a person, not as a patient?
To achieve building a healthy and well functioning life despite chronic illness, I've spent time building my "healthy" identity. I have certain friends that I never discuss health issues with, I plan activities that help me feel healthy. I label myself healthy as often as I can, because... I AM. I mean... I don't have the flu or anything, my condition is stable. I may have pain, but I feel healthy!
This interesting dilemma: "diagnosis and identity" is the background for choice of name of my new Norwegian blog (yes the one featured in my "Good News!" a few weeks back) which opens today at www.diagnostisert.no.