Wednesday, 14 November 2012

What doesnt kill you makes you stronger?




What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! A Scottish homily that reflects the stoicism in our culture. But is it true? Considering my recent decision to swallow brave pills and take a big step, it is certainly influenced by my recent illness. I know I'm not alone in making a decision following a cancer diagnosis-to make a long held wish a reality. And the knowledge that you have faced the hard stuff and survived is a powerful affirmation of life.so for me at least at one level its true.

But it's also influenced my health and that too affects my opportunities and decisions. Does one cancel out the other? I suppose that can only be weighed up be each of us. But the truth is for many a cancer diagnosis affects their employment, income and housing fundamentally so whilst it may be counter balanced by a bold decision for quality of life for some. For many there will be no choice, no long held ambition to realise, just a tougher reality to adapt to.

And physically there are often consequences of treatment, like radiotherapy and chemotherapy, while on average there will be chronic pain following surgery in over 30% of people. I am not saying this to depress you as I will also hear many say the cancer did them a favour, jolted them out of sleep walking through their lives but the truth is much much more complex for many.

So recently at a conference when we were asked to write some six word stories - to teach us to market our organisations succinctly-this one came to mind.

Breast cancer
Changes everything
For good.


But thats not the end of this weeks story as we had a family illness. And an older family member ended up suddenly in hospital. Now I cant fault their care in hospital, kind, thorough, informed. But the discharge procedure was woeful. Does it matter? Yes yes yes! A frail elderly person is not made stronger by illness, usually the opposite. Their confidence, strength and well-being  fundamentally changed. The person admitted not the same as the one who leaves. The future suddenly has new hue. But support systems have not. It's more than  drugs people need on discharge, its careful planning. And if you want to guarantee a readmission then don't plan a discharge. I guess leaving in the IV cannula wasn't planned either ( sorry I am angry!). So the six word story I thought that the hospital ward would write would be :


Discharged home
What next?
Don't care


Reasons to be cheerful. The care and compassion a family demonstrate in hard times is our greatest gift, no doubt.As you will see above, Cara the lurcher is settling really well now. Her ears are a different shape each day and the cat has almost forgiven us.......well I needed to end on a positive!


And look at these November skies we have had in Edinburgh of late! Wonderful:-)


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