stanford #medx: from your couch!

Stanford Medicine X is “a medical conference for everyone”.

Everyone includes a lot of patients—including myself, and people like my friends Kim and Carly [and many others!] who also attended #medx in 2012 and will be back this year.

Cherise, Kim, Chris and I in 2012!

More importantly right now… everyone includes YOU—or, anybody who is chilling at home on their couch, or at their kitchen table, or anywhere there is internet, thanks to the Medicine-X Global Access Program! Through the Global Access Program you can join the main stage fun of Medicine X, check out how technology is evolving and changing healthcare, and how that is becoming more and more accessible to both patients and care providers*. Med-X is taking place from September 5th through 7th [with workshops happening before as well].  And, it’s free! [I know right?! Free is my favourite price, too]  If you’ve never attended a conference virtually before, Carly is a master: she has even written an amazing virtual conference attendance how-to guide to help make the most of your experience.

Remember: Medicine-X… is for everyone. Everyone who participates in Medicine X — whether in person or online — is there for similar reasons: We believe our stories can make a difference; we recognize the potential technology has to improve healthcare—to improve patient outcomes; to change the way we think of–and manage–our own stories that involve chronic disease or another circumstance that has caused us to more deeply invest in healthcare; in changing our own outcomes and interactions within our care. And we all believe that we can be part of a bigger story, where the patient truly becomes the centre of care—not the system.

I guarantee Twitter will be on fire, so if you’re watching from home [or work… Not that I’m encouraging that :].], ensure you jump on that before the conference if you’re unfamiliar. [My soon-to-be-roommate, Karen, even tweeted last year in both Spanish and English—clearly she is magic. She’s also a sport psychologist and also has asthma, so we were totally meant to be roommates and I’m beyond excited to meet her.] And, while I could tell you what I’m excited for on the main stage, we might be here all day: so check out the program here and get stoked yourself!

Curious? Check it out. Register. [Remember, it’s free.]

And if you have questions, ask away below, or on twitter at #medx—we’ll help you out.

 

*Access to technology among providers in the Western world probably varies much on your geography/medical system. Just because it’s available, doesn’t mean that—for example—iPads are popping up in Canadian hospitals. Here in Winnipeg, electronic charting is sometimes either a) a new thing, or b) not even happening yet.  Which is among reasons why having international input and attendance at these conferences is so important: we can’t improve care through technology we don’t have access to—and, beyond financial constraints, knowledge of value in application is the other huge barrier to integrating technology to improve patient care, or improve the lives of all people. Knowing what I know, I shouldn’t have been shocked when my new-ish gynaecologist, Alaa, pulled up my pathology report on his computer at my first appointment. And I should probably stop being so shocked when I find someone I know wearing a Fitbit or using MyFitnessPal. And, for those of you Canadians who are in this boat with me, don’t worry: there are a handful of Canadians in the crowd, and we’ll do our best to get our voices out there, too.

medicine-x conference: the story, the scholarship, and the deliberations

I’ve been blessed with being able to meet a lot of really cool people, connect with a lot more, and be presented with a lot of really amazing opportunities.  At the end of December, I declared 2012 as the year of Good Things, and whether it is actually happening or it is just perspective [which IS still actually happening]. For instance, Ari Shine and Josh Damigo follow me on Twitter, and that is pretty awesome, because they are kickass musicians working super hard at what they do. I only mention this, because it is the pure connecting power of the Internet that has helped me land in a lot of places.

A few months ago, I haphazardly filled out an application to attend the Medicine-X conference at Stanford Medical School in Palo Alto, California, on recommendation of a Twitter follower who had attended Med-X in the past. Haphazardly because, thank you academic writing, I can make myself sound decent without trying too hard. And then, mostly I forgot about it assuming that nothing would come of it.

Last week, I received an e-mail that I had been selected to receive a full ePatient scholarship to Med-X including accommodation. Soon enough, the tweets started flying from others I follow with links of those of us selected for scholarships to the conference. In the Patient Engagement track, I am one of two Canadians, which is a huge honour in itself. Not only that, but to be alongside my friends Kim of Texting My Pancreas and Cherise, founder of Diabetes Social Media Advocacy or #dsma. These ladies are amazing people and hardcore influencers in the diabetes online community, so to be among them is amazing. We immediately started throwing tweets, direct messages and Facebook messages at one another.

Once the initial excitement wore off slightly, I started thinking rationally. School, money. Scouring the internet for the cheapest flights I could find with missing the least school possible. How I could get from San Francisco International Airport to the hotel, and how much it would cost.  Dude, I’ve never travelled by myself before . . . never mind in a place where my phone won’t work. Anyway, airfare had me scratching out numbers on a post-it. $550 is not bad for airfare going from the middle of one country to the coast of another in the least. But people, I work eight hours a week, sometimes a few more. I’m a full-time student. You know, the usual cards us students have to play.

I thought for days. I thought about making it work, about parting with probably what would end up being close to $1,000 for a three-day sprint of a trip. And I gave up on the idea, e-mailed the organizers of Med-X and reluctantly declined my scholarship. I Facebooked Kim and Cherise, Dia [who is basically my rationalizer] and Steve [one of my buddies in the Bay Area], and told them I was probably out.

Then at about 2 PM today my email bing’ed and there was a message from Larry Chu. Who offered an up-to $300 reimbursement toward my travel expenses to help enable me to attend Med-X. And my jaw dropped. I am already receiving conference registration, which is like $500, and a shared room at the Sheraton . . . and now they were offering to help offset the costs of traveling to the conference. This is a huge opportunity, and I’ve never done anything like this before. To attend Med-X with Kim, and hopefully Cherise, would be amazing.

I have another twenty-four hours or so to continue the considerations and make the decision. The Good Things, though, they keep coming, and I feel like how can I turn this opportunity down? Because it’s all aligning so amazingly–with so much of the cost being covered, with Cherise and Kim being on the roster, too, and with the haphazardity that I filled out the application, I feel that this must be aligning for a reason.

And how can I say no to the Good Things, right?

To be continued . . .

health time capsule – #hawmc day 1

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For April 2012, I’m taking another shot at completing the wegoHealth Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. Like BEDA, or Blog EveryDay April, the aim of #HAWMC is to complete thirty health-related blog posts in thirty days. With finals and a road trip, it’ll be a tough go, but I’m going to once again try giving it my best shot . . . And hopefully complete it this time!

Health Time Capsule: Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you and your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112. What’s in it? What would people think when they found it?

Twitter – My Twitter account, as it stands now, is very health-focused, but also very diverse. Because I have asthma, I obviously follow many people with asthma [but not as many as I’d think considering 10% of Canadians have asthma]. I’d say I might even follow more people with diabetes, type one, type two, or LADA, than I do people without diabetes. I follow people with cystic fibrosis, people who have or care for people with severe food allergies, fitness and nutrition bloggers, physical activity and health organizations, people with a host of other chronic diseases such as Crohn’s and lupus, the list goes on and on.  And of course, I follow a bunch of accounts that have nothing to do with health at all.

School – I often forget to really appreciate all that university has done to amplify my focus in regard to health knowledge and current topics in health. My favourite courses thus far have been Physical Activity: Promotion and Adherence, Issues in Health and Adapted Physical Activity, because of the desire to encourage and implement positive health-related behaviours to as many people and special populations as possible. My focus thus far is always chronic disease or disability and physical activity, from a physiological, psychological and sociological perspective, so many of my courses have been able to tie into that passion.

Asthma – The first Ventolin inhaler, the one that started it all. The huge Mini-Wright Peak Flow Meter I got about a year after being diagnosed would have to be included, because it’s so ugly. I then moved forward to a little green TruZone meter and since then, a digital. The first beat-up AeroChamber. The nebulizer. And of course, the bottle from my first course of prednisone.  The chronicles of the constant inhaler switches and doctors visits in my first few years with asthma. Conversation snippets from friends far away, like Natasha, Elisheva, Steveand many more, and pictures of meeting my friend Rona in Chicago who I met through the (smallish) Twitter asthma community and has been a huge supporter for many years. A shot of the Second Cup where Dia [who not only is a badassmatic, but a kinesiologist working in adapted physical activity] and I met in Real Life for the first time. Amazing people who I never would have met if I didn’t have to live with chronic disease.

Exercise – In this I would have to include many conversations with Steve above on how to figure out making the exercise/asthma thing work. Steve has been a huge supporter of mine over the years since my asthma diagnosis [hello, the man finished multiple Boston Marathons on far less than half his lungs. So badass]. I’d throw in the first pair of Saucony shoes that made me a convert. An UnderArmour shirt which made me a convert to the tech-shirt side permanently. The encouragement of so many amazing people on Twitter.  The discussions on exercise and chronic disease via e-mail with Jay–along with his constant motivation to focus on the Good Things. And of course, my Team Asthma.ca t-shirt and the support of the Asthma Society of Canada in my crazy projects [like the TeamAsthma-based Intervention Project for Promotion and Adherence] and endeavours in advocacy through physical activity.  My motivational dailymile friends. And finally, my Fitbit, which makes me increasingly intentional about my physical-activity choices throughout the day. Because the truth is, if I didn’t have asthma, I wouldn’t have met Steve, and I’d still probably be sitting on my ass :].

Perspective – The blog posts and journal entries that encapsulate transformation in my own thinking and attitude towards living with chronic disease. Because in this journey, it all comes down to choice, and the road that it took to get me to the place where I realized that it came down to my thoughts.  With this, finally, I would enclose my personal mantra:

Perspective is crucial, positivity is essential, and ignorance is a curable disease.

mission: acsm, asthma and action!

My friend Dia (yes, Dia who sent me chocolate with pop rocks in it!) and I have epic Skype sessions a few evenings a month.  We are in reality supposed to be working on a project when we have them, except often very little work gets done and lots of ridiculousness occurs.  Usually the ridiculousness involves kinesiology-related things and nerdiness and it is fabulous regardless of the lack of work we accomplish. (Related: Dia is awesome, and we are on a mission to volunteer at Camp Asthmatopia in the summer. For real. Possibly].

Last night, we were discussing prepping for my pulmonology appointment today and how I intended to be a pain in the butt questioning about exercise prescription again [except it definitely didn’t happen because I didn’t include it on my list of things to address when I was talking with the clinical nurse, so basically nothing new happened], and how I was going to go in with the ACSM Exercise Management for Persons with Chronic Diseases and Disabilities textbook that I am reading just for fun in the waiting room [I also had a research article on teen asthma education, because I am teaching teens about asthma on Thursday!].

So Dia initiated a challenge in which she would donate $10 to the charity of my choice if I took a picture of the book in the waiting room by the reception desk, and a bonus if I got a picture of it with the old-school spirometer, so I could prove it to her.  [By the way, I freaking owned that spirometer today.]

Here is the bonus:

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Soon enough after getting the pictures to Dia, an e-mail popped into my inbox.

A donation has been made to the ASTHMA SOCIETY OF CANADA (at CanadaHelps.org) in your honour.

Kerri, You rocked the ACSM mission. Here is hoping, that we can inspire EVERYONE […] to Get Up, Get Active and Get Involved.

Then I thought . . . why not take this one step further?

If you feel moved, I would love to have you join me on this journey. The Asthma Society of Canada is a non-profit organization striving to improve the lives of people living with asthma through education and empowerment, and encouragement of living active lives with asthma. The TeamAsthma program was launched in 2010 to provide a forum for encouragement of activity as well as advocacy for people with asthma and increase awareness of the Asthma Society to the general public at activity-promoting events through providing athletes with t-shirts to wear at races or other events.

I have created a CanadaHelps page in support of the Asthma Society of Canada with a request for donations to be put towards the Team Asthma.ca program, empowering people with asthma to get active to OWN their asthma!  (I hope to become more deeply involved in this program in the future, so stay tuned.)

Every bit helps, so THANK YOU for taking the time to read this and even consider donating now or in the future, or for sharing the page or this post!

12 of 12 – december ’11!

Over the last six years, 12 of 12 has been graciously hosted by its creator, Chad Darnell. though Chad is moving on, I am grateful for his creativity and willingness to host our links over the years and give us an awesome project to tackle once-a-month. Thank you, Chad!

On the 12th of each month, a bunch of bloggers from around the world take 12 pictures throughout the day.  Here are my pictures for December 12th, 2011!

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11:27 am – sidewalk. Our passports are expired, I think, so we went to get our passport pictures redone.  Not that I look a ton different, but my last picture was from when I was fifteen, so guess I’m due for a bit of an update.  I have an incredibly hard time not smiling in the darn things.

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11:34 am – photography place. Passport photo dude’s studio is also part collector’s store, which featured, along with sort of creepy Mario, a large TV playing The Doctors.  Also I yelled at Jillian Michaels about some sort of crap advice she gave.  Soon-ish-to-be kinesiologists are allowed to do this, right?  Am I a kinesiologist if I have yet to graduate?  I’m not sure.

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11:36 am – photography place. Smithers action figure!

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11:37 am – KUNG FU PANDA! Made me think of my friend Mike :]

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11:41 pm – photography place. I kind of want this, is that ridiculous especially considering I’m a vegetarian? Though the burger looks sad :(.

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12:52 pm – road. New extension, how exciting.  (Can you believe this is midday? So dark-ish.)

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12:56 pm – practicum. Can I still call it practicum if my practicum is totally over, as is the course associated with the practicum?  I went back to my practicum place and helped the rec therapist, Tracy, wrap Christmas presents for the tenants! Was super stoked to be back, considering I keep having to tell her I can’t make it to things and ti makes me sad!

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2:36 pm – Lindee’s. Turns out I forgot my phone and iPod at my grandparents’ house [we went there for lunch], so I had to go to my aunt’s house [next door to my practicum place and which I have a key for!] to call my mom to pick me up. I am so smart, S-M-R-T.  Can you guess what this is?

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3:15 pm – bedroom. HOORAY!  Got home to see a giant package in my mailbox, which happens to be the ACSM’s Exercise Management for Persons With Chronic Diseases and Disabilities textbook that I ordered via The Book Depository about a week and a half ago. I had no idea it would arrive so fast.  Also, I definitely ordered this for fun and not for school, and it is fascinating. Because I am a giant nerd! :] (Also, currently reading for Lance Armstrong’s it’s Not About the Bike for the second or third time.)

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5:15 pm – kitchen. Passport picture.  Is it mandatory to dislike these things? No-glasses weirdness!  DEFINITELY better than my old one though! [ . . . not only am I sporting the TWLOHA shirt on my student ID, I will apparently be sporting it on my passport to some degree for the next five years].

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7:29 pm – kitchen. About to have a Skype meeting [read: party] with Dia, in which we try to do work and usually end up not doing work. Also we contemplate taking off and rolling with this project we’re on for our legitimate jobs [except we kind of both love our legitimate jobs too much, and there is the issue that I have to finish school].  It would likely involve kinesiology, road tripping and documentary shenanigans or something equally fabulous.

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9:30 pm – kitchen. And back to the study train, yeah? Final final on Friday. It will be another fabulous day when this term is over!

12 of 12 is a project created by Chad Darnell, Though this is the last official Chad-hosted 12 of 12, I hope to see you all come 2012!