In my original 7 years of training to be a medical doctor there were gaps.
Some of those gaps I have filled. I spent time with Aboriginal people in rural Australia. I assessed elderly and frail people for admission to Aged Care facilities (aka Nursing Homes.) I also spent time working in a hospital Palliative Care unit caring mostly for people dying of cancer, but also Multiple Sclerosis and other illnesses. Then I took up as a family doctor which covers all areas of medicine, including visiting patients (aka people) in their own homes. Ooh wow.
In all this I still never got the sense of what it was actually like to be a relative, friend or carer of someone who is seriously ill or hospitalized.
Medicine never taught me this.
I still don’t have much experience in this area. (Un?)fortunately most of those around me have remained healthy and well.
This is a gap in the training of most doctors and nurses.
This is one area where the medical system isn’t going to help you very much.
It’s hard to help yourself when there are very few people to turn to for expertise.
However I saw a story on TV about a guy who does know a bit more about this, Dale Elliott (www.DaleElliott.com), who is now a sit-down/stand-up comedian, professional speaker, and the first paraplegic skydiver in Australasia.
Dale’s story is that at age 26 he broke his spine and lost the use of his legs coming off a motorbike. But it was only after his short 2-month stay in hospital that he discovered how many issues there had been for his colleagues, friends, and family while he was concentrating on getting well.
He took this experience and turned it into a self help tool for carers of people with serious illnesses and trauma.
It is called ‘I’m Thinking Of You’.
Since its launch in 2007 the site has attracted TV attention as well as private and corporate recognition. It has cost over $300,000 to setup, and over a thousand “Care Zones” have been created. Much more is to come.
If you know a carer who supporting someone ill in hospital or rehabilitation then have them check out this site to support them and take a big hassle off their already full plate…
www.ImThinkingOfYou.com.au (don’t worry about the .au – this site is used worldwide – 30% from the US alone.)
-Dr Martin Russell