Small Doses

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Notes from the edi­tor

This month you’ll read about the tra­vails of a lady stricken by Parkin­son’s Dis­ease (PD) in ‘A Slice of Life’. If you don’t al­ready know, PD is a de­bil­i­tat­ing neu­ro­mus­cu­lar con­di­tion that slowly strips away a per­son’s ca­pac­ity to per­form even rou­tine tasks like but­ton­ing up a shirt, hold­ing a cup of tea, or walk­ing. Our lady is spirit­edly fight­ing her dis­ease. But she also frankly ad­mits that had it not been for the sup­port she re­ceived from the Parkin­son’s Dis­ease and Move­ment Dis­or­der So­ci­ety, her progress would have been far slower. The in­creas­ing de­pen­dency can not only make the vic­tim de­pressed but can place a huge bur­den on the care­giver. Meet­ing other peo­ple mired in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances and ex­chang­ing notes helped her and her hus­band un­der­stand the dis­ease bet­ter, and cope with the daily prob­lems it posed. Sup­port Groups are truly the need of the hour. We just don’t have enough of them in our towns, vil­lages, and cities to help the chron­i­cally ill man­age their con­di­tions. As our Slice of Life lady avers, “When you feel con­nected with other peo­ple who are go­ing through the same thing as you, you feel more power to make changes. You think ‘If he can do it, so can I. He’s like me.’ Change seems more pos­si­ble, be­cause you see that th­ese other peo­ple have done it.” While a Sup­port Group is one way to connect with sim­i­larly af­fected in­di­vid­u­als, there is an­other way to achieve the same end – viz. shared med­i­cal ap­point­ments. This is a rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non that is yet to take off in In­dia. The big­gest com­plaint that most pa­tients have is that they don’t get enough time with their doc­tors. Shared med­i­cal ap­point­ments ad­dress this prob­lem. They com­bine the in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion of a typ­i­cal con­sul­ta­tion with the benefits of sup­port group dy­nam­ics. While most shared med­i­cal ap­point­ments in­volve peo­ple with the same con­di­tion, say heart dis­ease or rheuma­toid arthri­tis, oth­ers may bring to­gether peo­ple with dif­fer­ent health con­cerns. Each shared ap­point­ment pe­riod starts with a one-on-one con­sul­ta­tion with each mem­ber, con­ducted pri­vately or in the group, to doc­u­ment changes in symptoms, and check med­i­ca­tions, blood pres­sure, etc. This is of­ten fol­lowed by group ed­u­ca­tion. One at­trac­tive ben­e­fit of shared med­i­cal ap­point­ments is that they pro­vide more time with spe­cial­ists and other health pro­fes­sion­als in con­trast to the 5- or 10-min in­di­vid­ual con­sul­ta­tion that a pa­tient typ­i­cally gets. An­other ad­van­tage of meet­ing in this kind of set­ting is that, dur­ing the ap­point­ment, you have time to think, re­flect and over­hear things the doc­tor says to other pa­tients in the group that may help you. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously par­tic­i­pants who gather for th­ese ap­point­ments can spon­ta­neously connect and share help­ful tips and in­for­ma­tion with each other – it could be about cop­ing with joint pain, over­com­ing in­som­nia, eat­ing health­ier or re­duc­ing stress. This so­cial mix­ing can pro­duce en­ergy to fuel real change. So don’t be sur­prised if one of th­ese days, you hear your doc­tor/spe­cial­ist sug­gest­ing the idea of club­bing pa­tients’ ap­point­ments. Of course, for a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional this is sim­ply a way to solve his time cri­sis. For you, on the other hand, it may be just the thing you need to prompt you to act on med­i­cal ad­vice and adopt a health­ier life­style! In other words, it’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion all around.

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