Posted on August 2nd, 2012 by Admin
Editor's Note: Katherine E. is a patient/caregiver who submitted the following essay as part of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Patient, Caregiver Scholarship Contest. To vote, simply use the Facebook "Like" or Twitter "Tweet" buttons at the bottom of each post to share or leave a positive comment. The top vote-getters will be finalists.
When my mother became ill, I emerged as her caregiver and also assumed her responsibility for the care of my grandmother. The plan of care was developed as each day unfolded with household responsibilities and life affairs to manage along mom's battle with against cardiovascular disease. My deepest motivations and biggest lessons have come through my experiences with sickness among family and friends. I have written online blog posts about my experiences with my mom, which have been published at Prepared Patient Forum and KevinMD.com these stories are told through my reflective narrative. Here’s an excerpt from my “Summer Palpitations” blog post:
Early one Saturday morning, I was making my plans for the day. As I moved toward the kitchen, Mom’s voice bellowed from the living room, “The coffee is ready.” Turning my head, I could see bright rays of sunshine making a path through the open front door. I followed my morning greeting with, “Did you have breakfast?” Mom answered, “Yes,” so I sat down with yogurt, a banana and cinnamon coffee in my favorite cup.
She came to the table, pulled her chair up close and said with half-hearted laughter, “I keep feeling these flutters.”
“What have you been up to this morning?” I asked.
She said, “Well, I ate cereal for breakfast and took my medication, then I rode my bike to the bank. Now I’m getting ready to go grocery shopping, choir rehearsal and then to get my hair done, but I keep feeling these flutters.” Just listening to her schedule made me uncomfortable. She had other unmentioned responsibilities, like caring for my grandmother and cooking dinner, but I wasn’t ready to stir up an argument. Instead I said, “Well, it’s been a busy morning, so why don’t you go back to the sofa and rest for awhile?”
... By late Saturday evening, I was sitting in front of the computer with the banter of young people outside my front bedroom window and a hint of barbeque in the air. I heard rushing footsteps coming down the stairs, then a knock on my door. In a shaky voice, Mom asked, “What did you tell me to do about these palpitations?”
I asked, “Have these continued from early this morning?”
She nodded. “I’m too uncomfortable to lie down or sleep like this.”
I told her, “You have to go the hospital.” I reached for the phone and dialed 911. She lamented that she didn’t think her situation was that serious. I did. She urged me to take her blood pressure. I did not...
As mom recovered, I developed a project where I produced and hosted a national book discussion webinar series interviewing physician-authors in discussions about their writing pursuits, work experiences and lives offering an opportunity to listen in on their storytelling. The popular series continues as the online experience offers connection, interaction and a unique learning experience.
I use a variety of social media tools to share, inform and engage others in matters of health and well-being. I blog, tweet, post on Facebook and use similar platforms with a focus on messages for health and living well. For example, I led a tweet chat on cardiovascular health and storytelling for the health literacy, health care, social sciences chat — #hchlitss. I take a professional aim in my approach to social media that is sensible, sensitive and responsible.
The opportunity to attend the 2012 Social Media Summit would open an experience otherwise out of my reach. It’s an amazing opportunity to connect, share and learn. I would use my social media capabilities as physician in training and caregiver to disseminate with blog posts, tweets as well as offer commentary for publication. The Summit would afford me the opportunity to connect in-person, network and learn more in-depth social media strategies for the future.
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