Lately I have been through a rash of writing material for patient support programs (or programmes when I’m writing UK based ones).
In the last two and a half months, and in no particular order, I have written about heart attacks, reheumatiod arthritis, hepatitis A and B, high cholesterol, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and osteoporosis. And in the last week or so I have been called in to work on a pitch about erection problems. (I have the dubious honour of being an expert in this field, having written much of the UK patient support programme for Viagra when at my former agency.)
Trouble is I am also a hypochondriac. Last year I had to write a website about glaucoma and eye diseases, and by the end of that process I was unshakably convinced my vision was ruined. This August I definitely “had” reheumatiod arthritis too. It’s diabolical pain that as a writer I should have do endure these Job-like afflictions just to earn a crust.
The problem is that I have to empathise with the people who are reading what I write, or I can’t do it properly. I have to learn all their symptoms, and private horrors. I have to read their blogs, understand how the treatments work, and what they’re most afraid of. When writing about a particular treatment for macular degeneration, for example, I vividly imagined what it’s like having injections into the eyeball, and then what it must be like becoming accustomed to experiencing this “painless” injection.
So far, touch wood, I’m free of erection problems. I’ll keep you posted.