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Posts Tagged ‘Health’

I’ll just be honest. I don’t like having a broken foot. I don’t like spending most of my day on our futon. The futon isn’t that cozy. And my “to-do” list is growing.

I don’t like watching my husband do a good share of the cooking, cleaning and laundry. I know that might sound silly, but I am definitely ready to jump back into having a mobile life again. I want my freedom back. For three weeks I’ve been unable to carry anything and unable to drive and there’s barely one position that works comfortably well for sleeping these days.

I know that sounds like a lot of complaining. The truth is there’s nothing to really complain about. I know this is temporary. It’s obviously not in the top 10 of medical issues that deserve extreme sympathy. Not even close. And I’ve got a great husband who is taking good care of me. As I write, he’s downstairs doing the dishes. How can I complain?

I’ve had my moments of frustration and even self-pity. My to-do list grows and the house is a little dusty, but I’ve also felt new compassion for people who have truly long-term health challenges. That is one of the gifts in this season of inconvenience. Sure the scooter was sort of fun, until I experienced the awkwardness of it running out of juice in the middle of a busy aisle at Costco. And then came the looks of pity from passers-by. I have been humbled to ask for help when there was no other way. 

There have been other unexpected discoveries. I’ve seen how just hobbling around in a boot with crutches seems to break barriers. Perhaps it comes from being in an obvious place of vulnerability. All sorts of people have opened up conversations with me that I’m quite sure never would have otherwise.

People have gone out of their way to open doors, offered to help, given advice from personal experience with broken bones and extended encouragement. Total strangers have smiled and wished me well.

On the way home from the doctor, we got into long discussions with couples who sat next to us when we stopped for lunch. I think it ended up being a timely encouragement for all of us. Last week two women stopped me at Target, asking if they could pray for me. What a sweet gift. At the Ordway, two women shared a bunch of their life story with me while Brent went to get the car. When he picked me up, he was amazed at all I had learned in a mere 15 minutes. I love to hear people’s stories and am reminded to pray for them as they come to mind.

We know that God has purpose in this latest adventure he has us on, so we’re doing our best to sit up and take notice. We’re praying that the inconvenience, the extra sense of weariness we feel at the end of the night, and the momentary frustrations don’t get in the way of all he wants to show us. We don’t want to miss a thing. 

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I’m a graphic designer, so I love seeing when good design helps solve problems. I’m also intrigued with learning how  average people can take charge of their personal health. These two areas, health and design, might seem rather odd companions, but a recent “TED” talk married them quite nicely.

TED TALKS
By the way, if you’re not familiar with
“TED” you might want to be. TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design. This organization sponsors a video site that highlights the best of their TED talks around the world.

So, the TED talk that inspired this post presents a great idea for something I think is long over due. If you’ve ever been perplexed or even highly annoyed by medical charts, forms and lab reports, it may also strike a chord with you. If you’re like me, you dread when envelopes arrive from the doctor’s office. I immediately wonder if the contents will involve six phone calls to get things straightened out or to just understand what they mean. Anyone who suggests plausible ways to simplify the contents of those envelopes is a hero to me.

REDESIGN THE CHARTS!
Thomas Goetz is a designer, not typical hero material, but what he proposes in this talk is almost too simple. Take a look at the average medical report, chart, invoice or drug description. You usually need a dictionary, medical degree or magnifying glass to even begin to read it. Why is that? How are we suppose to take charge of our health without adequate information? Is it cynical to think they’re purposely written to keep people from understanding them? Or perhaps they’re just designed by the wrong people. Has anyone thought to have a designer do the designing?

Mr. Goetz has and, as it turns out, he’s not the only one. Instead of tiny fonts, confusing markings and unclear formats, he displays forms with meaningful color-coding, simple language and easy-to-follow designs. Some bright designers actually patterned one example after nutrition information on a cereal box. Mr. Goetz suggests that if we have laws that require easy-to-read nutrition labels, why wouldn’t our drug labels be at least as understandable. Now, there’s some health reform I can buy into!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably taken the idea for granted that these forms must be complicated and unreadable. But after listening to this talk, my only question is, “How can we encourage the health care profession to present our information in a way that helps us understand and become better advocates for our own health?”

MORE IDEAS
One other suggestion Mr. Goetz made is to arm yourself with these four simple questions when you have medical tests done:

  1. Can I have my results?
  2. What does this mean?
  3. What are my options?
  4. What’s next?

Two things I have done in recent years include creating a family medical history chart and being prepared for doctor visits. Yes, the chart took some time. I had to interview my parents about illnesses relatives had endured and how some had passed away. Frankly, I was just tired of doctors asking questions about family history and me not having the answers. Then, I also realized I am my very best advocate for my health. Each year at annual exam time, I write up a list of all questions I have regarding my health. I have learned to not be shy about pulling that list out and running down it when the physician asks if I have any questions.

I’d be interested in knowing what others in the medical profession think about Mr. Goetz’s suggestions. What have been keys for you in being your own health advocate? What do you think about TED talks?

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