What To Do When Everyone has an Opinion

Part of the title of the Academy Award-winning film “Everything Everywhere All at Once” made me think of a fact of life: everyone everywhere has an opinion. Well, probably not EVERYWHERE, so maybe it should be “Most everyone everywhere has an opinion.”

Everyone has advice to give

The planets seem to have aligned recently to put me right in the center of a swirl of opinion and advice-giving. People have opined on two totally different parts of my life. They are (not in order of importance) 1: what kind of collar I should put on my puppy, and 2: what I should and shouldn’t do for my shingles pain.

How do you respond to unsolicited advice?

What they are saying aside, it made me think of some broader questions that can apply to being a blood cancer patient. How do you respond to an opinion that runs contrary to what you are doing? What do you take in and what do you reject? How do you weigh an opinion?

To back up, I got a black Labrador Retriever puppy in October, not even three whole months since my beloved chocolate Lab died. A lot of people had thoughts about this. Some said I should wait longer, maybe volunteer or foster for a while. I couldn't stand having an empty house. I looked at older dogs but also at puppies. Someone suggested I was too old to start with a puppy. I went with what a good friend from my newspaper days said: The cure for my grief over a dog’s death is to get a puppy.

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Some three months after bringing home baby (puppy), I came down with shingles. The worst part was not the active part but rather the post herpetic neuralgia where I dwell now. What’s this? England’s National Health Service explains, “Post-herpetic neuralgia is a lasting pain in the areas of your skin where you had shingles… The pain may come and go or be continuous. It can be described as burning, stabbing, shooting, aching, throbbing or like electric shocks.” 1

This is going to sound strange, but on some days I think the near-constant pain and itch is worse than leukemia.

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But I was going to talk about dog collars and shingles pain.

I used a gentle leader collar for Maddie but am not using it for Gracie. This is a type of head collar that loops around the nose. I tried it with Gracie but she would not keep it on. A friend who trains dogs took her for a couple of weeks to train her. He used a different type of collar. I put into this post, and then took out, what kind of collar it is. I don’t want someone to read this and start focusing on the collars, because that’s not the point. I will just say I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and told me I should use….drumroll… the gentle leader. This is ironic, since it worked so well with Maddie. But they don’t know this dog. I know that she sat down on the floor and begun pawing at the part on her nose.

I think I snapped at the last one who said I need a gentle leader. You might imagine that I didn’t change collars. But I have to admit that the seed was planted for doing more research about other options.

The latest unasked-for opinion is about my shingles pain is more cut and dried. I went to a pain management clinic at the local hospital. A doctor gave me steroid shots at the top of my spine. They didn’t help. A newly minted doctor who is a friend of the family said I should have gotten them lower. He said that at my next visit, I should ask for a re-do in a different area. I went back to the clinic. The doctor said that shots in another spot wouldn’t help. He said they only to it once. That was the end of that. Next up, they are going to try a capsaicin patch.

Sometimes unsolicited advice is a life saver

Twenty years ago, when I was diagnosed with leukemia, I decided I would get treated close to home at a local hospital. I had three young kids at home. This would be the convenient option. The phone rang off the hook. (This is an outdated phrase because who has hooks?) The callers included my close high school friends. They said I was crazy not to be treated at the world class cancer institute, Dana-Farber, that was 90 miles from home. These were not some random people advising me on the street. I valued their opinion. I thought it through. I realized they were right. I packed my bags, and off I went. If I hadn’t followed their advice, I don’t know if I would be here right now.

So, from shaking it off to soaking it in, there are a lot of ways to go when everyone is giving you advice.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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