What’s Your Story? The Future of Healthcare
Photo Courtesy of Dollar Photo Club.
Jane, 44 lay frozen on the treatment table. A few seconds before a searing bolt of pain had gone through her back as though someone had just stabbed her with a red-hot poker.
She looked up at the health practitioner and asked, “I don’t understand where this pain has come from.”
The practitioner pulled up a chair beside the table and said, “Tell me about your health since you a baby and then I’ll tell you why you are here next to me lying in pain.”
Jane was born in Kingston, Ontario through an emergency C-section. For her mother, the pregnancy had been a nightmare and by the time she left the hospital seven days later her body was depleted and she was physically exhausted. As a result, breastfeeding had not been an option and Jane began life on bottled cow’s milk. Over the next few months, Jane’s mother regained her strength and baby Jane appeared to be doing well. It was only after her first set of vaccinations that the frequent ear and throat infections began and would continue only until at the age of six, the doctors removed her tonsils. After that things settled down and Jane enjoyed a healthy five years.
At 11, she had her first period and for the first couple of months things appeared normal, but the third month was extremely painful. After a couple of months, Jane’s mother took her to their family physician who prescribed a birth control pill. Just as five years earlier, the medical intervention resolved her symptoms.
In school, Jane was a keen ice hockey player with enough talent that by the age of 14 she was playing at high level. This meant practicing three to four times per week and numerous tournaments through each season. It was after a couple of years that Jane began to develop problems with her knees and hips that despite regular physiotherapy would not resolve, and it became increasingly more uncomfortable for Jane to maintain her heavy hockey schedule. After another six months, she was dropped from the hockey program and like so many young Canadians, her dream of playing hockey for her country was over.
She continued her schooling, went to college, got a job working for the government, married at 30 and now has two children. Her health had been generally good, but she suffered from constipation and an occasional episode of lower back pain that came and went.
After listening to her story, the doctor said to Jane, “What do you think caused you to be lying here in so much pain?”
“I have no idea”, she said, “All I did was to bend down to big up my five-year-old and just felt my back go.”
The doctor smiled and said, “That is a very short story for such a big pain. In my experience, when people come into my office complaining of symptoms, I see that as just the most recent page in the story of their life and like with all stories, every page before has played a part leading up to them lying on my table.”
“So what you are saying is that the pain is my fault,” Jane replied. “But how does that help my pain now?”
The doctor smiled again and said, “What I am saying is that it is the fault of your life, not you. I’m pretty sure you have not deliberately brought this pain on yourself. What I am sure of is that this pain is not life-threatening and will resolve itself. The important thing to learn from this pain, as with any other symptom, is that you have to listen and learn from it. To me the message is that your story so far has shaped your health to this point. You now have the chance to rewrite some past wrongs and to create a healthier future. That is going to bring with it a different type of pain in the form of change, but I will be here to support you, so you will not be alone, and I can promise you will not have to go through such pain again.”
Kate smiled and said, “I’m in, but I have a question. Why did my doctor not tell me this rather than just giving me pain killers?”
“That’s a good question.” The practitioner replied, “What is more important is that this is the future of your healthcare.”
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.