Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tips & Tricks for Docs and Other HCPs

I was recently asked for my thoughts on training doctors. It's a subject that's been on my mind lately anyway, thanks to the #MedX chats on twitter & google plus. Here are some of the things I wanted to share.

I think one of the most important things for docs to understand is that chronic patients don’t come looking for drugs. We come looking to get relief and help. If a chronic pain patient walks into your practice and says they need higher pain meds, doctors need to think about how much courage that patient needed in order to bring it up as well as how high that person’s pain levels must be. There is this almost automatic shudder when these things are mentioned and patients, especially younger females, are treated as though many things are all in their heads. By doing that, you further ostracize a patient, which just deteriorates their mental health to a dangerous point and also makes it less likely that they will follow their medication or other treatment regimens.

Really listening, instead of hearing, makes a huge difference. I suffered from fibromyalgia pain for years before Kathy (my rheumy's NP) really listened to my symptoms to find it. My previous rheumy thought I had it, but never told me or ran any tests. I got to suffer through that pain, which ended my graduate school career and forced me to change jobs, while someone could’ve treated it if they only listened and cared enough to discuss it with me.

Having ideas on how to deal with the day-to-day issues will help immensely.

Read up on journal articles about transitioning care for juveniles who have recently graduated to adulthood. There are often things we go through that are different than adults who fall ill. Mentally, things are darker because we may have never been well enough to participate in things. Physically, things tend to be worse for us as well due to wear & tear, and the time damage has had to occur.

Treat us as your partner in the battle against whatever diseases you work with. Patients who feel as though they can work with their doctors instead of being told what to do, often do better than the others. Be receptive to new ideas, even if you think acupuncture may just help due to placebo. If no harm could be done, encourage your patient to find things that will help them – and learn to recognize body language that suggests people are having a harder time mentally or physically. It really helps in protecting patients from their own minds when you can know there is something wrong and engage them on it.

What would you share?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January So Far: 5k progress update, snowshoeing, activism, and Washington, DC

January has been crazy so far! We in the midwest started out the month with temps in some places even lower than -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes, it's enough to make me wonder why I even live in Wisconsin! But then, I remember I have some of the best docs out there and that winter isn't all bad.

picture of Kirsten in a Racing for the Cure sleeveless jersey


I started off the new year getting my racing jersey for the Arthritis National Research Foundation. In case you haven't heard, I'll be running a 5k on May 3rd in order to help raise money for this wonderful organization! Feeling generous? Donate here!

I was a little worried about how this whole 5k training would go, so I snagged the Zombies! 5k app for like $2. It's amazing and I'm considering downloading their other running app once I'm through the 8 weeks of 5k training so I can keep it going. The app helps a ton, to the point where I went over 2.5 miles in just over 40 minutes non-stop on the elliptical at the gym. I seriously couldn't believe it, so I had to document it (DUH).

picture of an elliptical machine with stats on activity

My goal is to do these workouts 3 days a week, but we want to be more active as a couple, so T and I bought snowshoes today! They're super fun and a great workout.

picture of Kirsten's big feet in a pair of snowshoes

On the advocacy front, I have a lot of exciting things coming up. I was nominated for a couple of Wego Health Activism awards (thank you, you sneaky people - I love you!), and am excited to see how that will pan out. It really is an honor just to be nominated - and to be judging one of the categories as well! It should be a fantastic time :)

I recently joined Seth's 50 State Network from the Global Healthy Living Foundation and Creaky Joints. Seth is actually the dude in charge over at CJ, in case you're wondering. Advocacy Joe, who recently began regularly blogging for CJ, is really doing a great job of getting people involved in trying to affect legislation and really raise awareness about arthritic diseases. I'm incredibly excited for the things we have coming up this year, and for the push this network I know will give me to get my story and those of others out there. Joe recently wrote a piece I just love - and that fact that I'm part of it might have something to do with it, but I'll just let you judge for yourself.

I'm very excited for the youth panel I'm doing with my local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation at the end of February on the transition to adulthood. My reading is going... Well, I have like 5 books to read still. I should probably get cracking on that...

I also got some AMAZING news earlier this week - I'm headed to DC in March to be a part of the Arthritis Foundation's Advocacy Summit! I'll be staying a few blocks away from the White House (AHHH!) and will have some downtime while I'm there on my lonesome. If you'd like to meet up, or have something fun and touristy you think I just HAVE to do, let me know!

What are some things you would like to see happen on the activism front?