Today, we [M1s] attended a panel with four incredible women who told their stories of being patients or caregivers. In the hospital, at first glance, what we may see is an ill woman wearing an uncomfortable hospital gown, but it’s up to us to remember that person is a musician, a professional, a teacher, a mom, or any other characteristic that defines them much more than just “patient.” Hearing from patients and learning from their experiences reminds us of that. Some patients spend many days and nights in the hospital, and their quality of life in the hospital reflects on their quality of life in general. Patients talked about how services like art and music therapy and child life specialists can make their hospital stays more manageable, and even enjoyable in parts. Towards the end, I was most moved by one patient who talked about how “you can’t buy perspective.” The experiences we have, and the struggles we face shape who we are as people and help us see life from a different vantage point. Our values change, our priorities shift, and sometimes our adaptability increases.
Resilience is a word that wasn’t brought up in the panel, but it’s a word that came to mind for me throughout. Resilience on behalf of both the patients and the physicians. We have to find it in ourselves to keep moving even when life throws us new curveballs, for some of our patients on a daily basis. It takes a different kind of resilience to confront illness daily from the perspective of a physician or of a caregiver. One of the videos we watched, Brené Brown on Empathy [3 min], can give you a small taste of what we talked about during the session.
In my apartment, we accumulate random snippets on our fridge, but two constants have been a list of quotes (about failure, interestingly enough, a post for another day!) and a list of ways to practice gratitude from MHealthy. I like to think of gratitude as a skill, something to be cultivated daily, not only reserved for a special day in November. Still, I am very grateful for the holiday itself because it gives us one more reason to come together with friends and family and celebrate our relationships with each other. Many ‘friendsgivings’ have been happening across campus, and we are no exception (Veggie chili, grown up mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, pumpkin corn bread, acorn squash with quinoa filling, and chocolate pecan pie…food coma)! I felt very fortunate to have friends from several different parts of my life present.
Happy Thanksgiving from Dose of Reality!
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Nonie Arora is a 4th year MD/MBA candidate at the University of Michigan. She is passionate about improving the delivery of healthcare and health policy. She can be followed on Twitter @nonie_arora.