Try and Put Everything in Perspective

chris-lawton-628307-unsplashAging in America might be easier than in some countries, though having to navigate the fragmented health care systems, insurance companies and best evidence for ones specific and or chronic conditions is certainly daunting, and too often, overwhelming. It appears health care common sense is a policy chapter that has not been developed yet, not implemented for sure, regarding Americans and our available health care ‘options’.

I find it interesting that Taiwan¹ has had a single payer system since 1995, I am curious too, why Taiwan was not invited to the WHO General Assembly once again this week, has not been invited since 2009 over challenges with global sovereign policies. In America we have had heated discussions for many years over single payer systems, universal health care. My Mother, a R.N. Mayo Kahler graduate and a staunch Republican, was always a voice for universal health care, she watched as heath care costs accelerated to an out of control range, inaccessible to many, wondering what happened to that common sense platform of days long gone. So do I. There is a 2030 agenda for sustainable governments, I found a perspective laying out the case for strengthening health care for universal health coverage you might like to read².

I coupled this photo and title together as when we age and grow, we constantly try to put everything in perspective. These ongoing thought processes might be refered to as wisdom, intuition, or focus. I climbed Yosemite’s Half Dome in 1987, one of my greater achievements in life, making it to the top of the Dome even though I faced these obstacles:

  1. Left base camp mid morning, got a very late start
  2. Believing my gentle PhD hiking friends that it was ok to leave that late, even though they had no evidence to back their theory  (two Physicists and one Mathematician)
  3. Not bringing enough water, nor food for the 14 mile, 14 hour July hike
  4. Winging our journey, trusting other hikers what was the best trail route
  5. Not carrying flashlights, and yes, we came down the mountain in the dark, and thank you full moon… We made it,Whew!

As elders in communities we should leave seeds of wisdom with our younger human brethren. The pinecone could be symbolic of the seeds that are to be left behind, that will grow into trees when nurtured, that give back to the earth, and to our communities, many benefits. Half Dome in the background evokes in me the exhilarating feeling of making it to the top, soaking up the spectacular views, realizing though we were only going to be present at that moment in awe and accomplishment, achieving our goal for just a short time. They are now exceptional memories.

Today is my birthday, I woke up with multiple arthritic pains and aches, legally blind until I put on my glasses, wondering what I can accomplish today that might make a difference for others that perhaps could be a positive impact for generations to come. This is a lofty goal for this day, though we are able to share with others the importance of “putting it all in perspective”.

Our Voices Form the Laws, this is a tagline I added to a civic engagement project I initiated years ago. Our Voices are needed for change, to develop new and better policies, though we must walk our talk. I would like to suggest to you, from this blog today, that you will not regret doing something that will better the life of another, make a difference big or small, in your life or for another. Think, Do, Act and Thank you for being You.

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*On this day in 1987, the same year I climbed Half Dome, I woke up in Los Altos, CA to the Beatles “Today is your Birthday” blaring from the alarm clock, welcoming the new day. I am still very happy that I spent that day with friends walking across the Golden Gate bridge. They had only allowed foot traffic on that day 31 years ago, celebrating the auspicious 50th year marking the opening of the iconic suspension bridge. I researched the bridge today knowing that it shares a similar birth date, I found that the article ironically tells that the bridge today is looking pretty shabby, mentions what could be done to make it look better. I can only hope that I am standing as strong at age 81, still able to span daily travellers, connecting them in some way along their life’s journey.

Continue reading Try and Put Everything in Perspective

Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a word that some and or all of us may wince at upon hearing, others may take it on as a challenge, of course it actually is just that. The problem with uncertainty in the medical field and the health research world is that the referenced uncertainty may be inmuteable and or even undefineable.  “Uncertainty is a pervasive and  important problem that has attracted increasing attention in health care, given the growing emphasis on evidence-based medicine, shared decision making, and  patient-centered care¹“. thumbnail martha (2)This Gilbert Stuart First First Lady portrait drew me to it during my recent visit to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and an interesting fact is that she is the only woman exhibited in the Presidential gallery. My initial thoughts at viewing were ‘How contemporary, Wow! look at Martha’s official portrait’ I loved it, then I realized after reading the citation that it was unfinished.

Treatment in health care is full of uncertainty, there are exhortations of hope being shared regarding precision medicine and how this budding field of work might eliminate some of the uncertainty in individual patient care, diagnoses and even how “to identify risk in adults²”.  Let me share with you that there is a risk (or harm) and or benefit to everything, literally everything when we are talking about medicine and or health research. I learned this and slowly gained acceptance to this fact, when I started out as a #patientpartner in health systems improvement research.

This First-First Lady ‘portrait’ could be an anaology to uncertainty in health diagnoses, treatments, and or research. An artist and or clinician must research an individuals client/patient history to pull out what they might deem relevant, to draw out what is most important to the ‘subject’ to bring forth the best ‘outcome’. Sometimes our current work goes unfinished, there might be too many uncertainties where risk and or harm overrides any known benefits. Shockingly more often than we might suspect, less care can actually be better³.

I saw the beauty of the starkness of the canvas around First Lady Martha’s face, I really admired this ‘unfinished’ portrait, no added frills, nothing to deter one from focusing on her, only her, nothing additional to distract you. Our health care and research should be focused on the ‘subject’, the social determinants of health should be addressed within the canvas ’empty space’. The uncertainty of ones surroundings is pervasive, lending us all to use our imaginations and knowledge of “what can or might be”.

Continue reading Uncertainty

Good Deeds in Health Care

Thank you for reading!

In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans.   Khalil Gibran

I am not exactly sure how visualizations elicit emotions and or affect our senses, they do though.  I am low vision and have feared full scale blindness twice in my life. I have blind friends who are voracious readers, they are able to verbally or through typing or signing share with you what you are looking at, all without what we normally refer to as the sense of sight or better known as vision.

For some reason looking at this photo makes me thirsty. I do not know or understand why it makes me want to and feel like I need to drink water. I do know I really want to drink water when I look at it. The drops of water evoked memories of multiple hospitalizations where I was so sick and tired of my NPO that I seriously thought of cheating and drinking water from that little sink in the washroom. I stayed the course though, remained strong despite undeniable thirst, knowing and understanding what might transpire if I did drink the water, how sick I might become if and when surgery might be scheduled.

We talk about AI in healthcare and what it has the capability of unleashing. Will we be able to evoke the desire to drink and or see the need to drink water through AI? Will health data be able to capture and recognize when a patient is thirsty, or dehydrated and then inform the appropriate individual that now it is time for an ice chip cup delivery? I truly have appreciated that someone recognized I needed that ice chip cup before I actually asked for it. This is good medicine as well as a good deed done. These simple random acts of kindness provided without one asking, preemptive in delivery, help make all the difference in our health care and daily life experiences. Sometimes we as individuals do not know what our bodies are telling us we need, intuitive individuals who care might, perhaps AI will too.

Water and vision. Water is the primary root source of all that is nature. We need water to properly sustain our bodies health and to nurture the world around us. Unfortunately no one has been able to figure out how to make clean water free for everyone around the globe, they are working on bionic eyes that see now though. How can we use our vision, thinking vision to affect real change?

I hope today we all take a moment to reflect on the ‘heavens’ for the rainfall it provides us, gifting our earth and us, for as long as we are here, without even asking for it. I am grateful today that I have vision, using my eyes and with my brain, knowing together we can make a difference in the world of healthcare and beyond. One snapshot at a time, one drop of water or ice chip at a time, and maybe one day AI can catch up too.

*Hassanah=Good Deeds in Arabic. *Hassanah Health = Good Deeds in Health

Ramadan will be arriving in the next few days. Muslims fast and abstain from food and water sunrise to sunset, refrain from any derogatory bad deeds and or negative thoughts during the month to cleanse themselves from environmental and sometimes self inflicted built up toxins from the past year. Reflection, giving and purification of the heart are all important to our health and mandatory for Muslims during Ramadan in particular, though actually practicing all the time throughout the year is of course best practice.  

Ramadan Mubarak.

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importance of staying hydrated https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/slideshows/10-good-deeds-and-why-you-should-do-them?slide=7

Thank you thirst photos:

@leigh_cooper water droplets

@curly_beard trees on dunes