In this age of information overload, it is only natural that when struck with an illness, one runs outside to gather as much information about it as one can. Unfortunately, usually this works only to the patient’s disadvantage. Much of the information is only hearsay and not authentic. Even when it is well-meaning and from reliable sources it can mislead us since no two patients are alike and therefore, in a way, no two illnesses are alike. One may add that very often even two specialist doctors do not always agree with each other! Besides it is very difficult to opine upon a patient simply by casually hearing about the symptoms and supplying some superficial information. An experienced and an intuitive physician may be able to provide some useful hints but usually it is rare to find such a physician, even in this age of tele-conferencing! No doubt sometimes an odd thing here and there helps; usually it is not this or that thing taken or done but the body’s own resources that have healed it in its natural course. Whatever was being given at that time gets the acclaim! But in either case, whether the claim is genuine or simply a matter of faith, the body still begins to rely upon something external to itself. As long as one knows that the value of all such advice is very relative and the real healing is always in the end self-healing, it is okay.
There is yet another problem. It is the unnecessary fear that is introduced by unsolicited advice. The damaging effect of such advice is seldom understood by the person who gives it, often in good faith. But the words spoken, the suggestions given, the feelings generated, the vibrations communicated, all continue to reverberate in the mind of the patient and later in the subconscious parts much after the adviser himself may have forgotten it. Of course if the suggestions are good and positive they work to the benefit of the patient. But more often than not, an illness is generally associated with fear of various kinds and that makes things only worse. Perhaps more persons die of fear than the actual illness. But we seldom recognise it and there are no instruments to measure the damage done by fear, often triggered by unasked advice. The best advice one can give is to remain cheerful in spite of the illness, to keep trust even if the doctors have declared the case as hopeless (since doctors are not God and Medical Science is not an absolute knowledge), to observe moderation and to take rest. Diverting the mind to something positive and beautiful or light and joyous is a more concrete help that a person can provide someone, a help more beneficial than one that harps upon the illness or gives it more attention than it deserves. The safe rule for the patient is not to discuss the illness with too many persons who will add nothing but misery, even when they sympathise. Only they must know about it who are directly involved with the care and to whom the patient’s well-being or illness makes a concrete or emotional difference. And there too one must exercise utmost caution before speaking about one’s maladies. None can help, except the Divine Grace, sometimes aided by our faith in the physician, the medicine and in the eventual recovery.