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Does Hope Have a Dark Side?
Date:8/26/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Imagine suffering from a chronic illness that challenges you every single day. You have aches and pains, difficulty getting around and sometimes suffer from surprising decreases in energy. You take fistfuls of medication for relief and endure countless medical procedures to keep the illness from progressing.

The illness might be physical, such as diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome or arthritis. Or it might be emotional or psychological, such as anxiety or depression.

Either way, might your life be better if you stopped hoping to cure your condition and simply accepted things as they are?

"Sometimes knowing the adversity you face is permanent makes it easier to face that adversity," said Dr. Peter A. Ubel, a professor of medicine and psychology at the University of Michigan and director of the university's Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine.

Ubel co-authored a study that found that people who'd had a colostomy -- surgery that creates an opening in the abdomen for stool to drain from the body -- but could have the procedure reversed in the future experienced no improvement in life satisfaction over time. But, people who had irreversible colostomies reported increased satisfaction with their quality of life.

It's not a conclusion that's been universally embraced, however. Dr. Ann Berger, chief of pain and palliative care at the U.S. National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., said she believes the finding from the colostomy study only scrapes the surface of what a patient needs to undergo to experience healing from a chronic illness.

"Acceptance is only a very small part of ultimately developing a sense of wholeness in healing from a chronic illness," Berger said.

The study involved 71 colostomy patients, including 30 people with permanent procedures and 41 with reversible pr
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