re-energized: Fall, California, #MedX, and the possibility of “how might we”

It is the first day of Fall, the people of the internet (aka my friends on Facebook) are telling me. It’s kind of hard to believe given I got back from beautiful California less than a week ago where it feels like summer and is generally pretty. Alas, my favourite season—Fall—is upon us, and I engaged in an (iced) pumpkin spice chai at Vancouver airport at probably ten-something PM on Monday night.  (Pumpkin spice chai is amazing. I was getting ehhh about normal pumpkin spice lattes, honestly, and I am thrilled by pumpkin spice chai lattes.)

And is obligatory on the first day of Fall, listening to Come Winter by Daphne Loves Derby (on repeat), as has been my general habit since about 2014, if not earlier.

If you’ve got Apple Music, here’s a link to a slightly different EP version that I’m enjoying.

Fall is my favourite season not just because of pumpkin spice. I enjoy the cooler weather, the jeans-and-hoodies combo, the foray into toque-season (without the brutal cold associated with toque season), the fact that Goalball starts soon (and archery!), the fact that my lungs generally like Fall, and the fact that I get back to a bit more solid of a routine—for the lack of routine I generally have, even in the non-Summer months. Despite some of the worst moments of my life happening in the beginning portion of Fall (looking at you, 2013 and 2014, and even 2016), these have all come with resolution attached—“part of a change for better” (I Swear This Place is Haunted, A Skylit Drive)—or at least a piece of resolution that produced a change I can, at least now, feel positively about.

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This year, again, fresh off a return from Stanford Medicine X, and subsequent #MedXHangover and ongoing recovery, I feel that sense of renewal, that sense of recharged passion and purpose for creating change, both in myself and in the world. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve got some other advocacy-related travel opportunities in the works (travel may exhaust people but it energizes me), or that I met so many amazing people last weekend at MedX. It doesn’t hurt that the people I met and the experience I had at IDEO for the Medicine X – IDEO Design Challenge re-inspired me to think differently, creatively, in terms of “How Might We”s and innovation and possibility and better. No, spending a glorious two days with one of my favourite people on earth, Stephen, in Santa Cruz to relax and recharge even prior to embarking on the Medicine X whirlwind of inspiration, that didn’t hurt either. Meeting a dozen Canadians at MedX reminded me that things are possible, change is possible, even in our slow-moving, lack-of-progress medical system (although I maintain Toronto is more receptive to change than Winnipeg/Manitoba/our ridiculous healthcare-killing Conservative Government is). I am ready to do more. Batteries recharged.

I am re-energized. Re-inspired. Thanks both to California, to the MedX Family, to friends, and to the crispness of Fall.

Well, I’m sure another pumpkin spice chai latte wouldn’t hurt, either.

my chronic disease secret

Most of the time, I try to be of the voice that life with chronic disease can still be awesome.

But that doesn’t mean chronic disease doesn’t suck.

A couple years ago, my friend Chris launched My Diabetes Secret. An innocent question from him lead to a discussion, and then… to this:

My Chronic Disease Secret.

“A safe place to share your chronic disease secrets. No judgement. No shame. No stigma. Merely catharsis through honesty.”

I like this a lot.

Huge props to Chris for investing his time in setting up these projects.

Share your story. Even if nobody knows it’s yours.
Or if that’s too hard, share. Just read, even.
And keep going. If you need them, there are resources, people, who can help—even if you just want to type.

I hope you’ll check it out.

“thank you for being so patient”

This morning, I was helping (or not helping, as the case may be) with the set-up of a new website. Two provinces away on the phone was the doctor I was “assisting” to navigate a new WordPress install.

[Note: She ended up calling tech support, so I can’t say I was all that helpful ;).]

During this call, though, she said “Thank you for being so patient!”

While this was in reference to the understandable frustrations of technology and distance (1400 kilometres is a bit of a distance to lend support on a host I’d never used!), perhaps it should be used in different patient-doctor scenarios.

How many times has your doctor (as a patient)/have you (as a physician) entered the room a) late, b) visibly stressed, c) without having consulted your notes first, or d) all of the above?

In any of these situations, I’d much rather hear “Thank you for being so patient,” over “Sorry”. Being thanked values my time, energy and investment into being a patient. Apologies mean little when they’re overused: apologize when you, as a healthcare provider, have screwed up; when something has happened and you could have done better, acknowledge it! Help reinstate the value of being truly sorry—we can tell when you’re being sincere, anyways.  Chronic patients realize that these things—being late, stressed, needing a second to check our charts—are facts of life in the healthcare system. It’s why I am reasonably patient (and pleasant) as much as I can be when dealing with my medical team, and make the effort to thank every single person I encounter in the hospital or clinic whenever possible: I appreciate the work you do, that these professions do not have nearly enough resources, and that everyone taking care of me has far more than me to think about. I want the people caring for me to know that.

And just as I, as a patient, appreciate the work that healthcare professionals do, I’d much rather the apologies be saved for when they’re truly needed, and instead, my experience be recognized and appreciated.

Thank you for being so patient,” works for me.