This J-Term class is absolutely fascinating. I always wanted to be a nurse, although I rarely admitted this to anyone, mainly because I didn't want to hear the frequent comment of "I wouldn't want a blind girl sticking a needle into me." I knew that discrimination would likely be a problem to, and selfishly didn't want to fight it. Now, that's not even an option, since I know that nurses are on their feet a lot, and pain would be an issue.. But that interest has prepared me well for this course. That and the fact that I know more about pain and medications than a human should without a license, but that's also another discussion, one that has been borne out in this journal multiple multiple times. (Pain scale anyone?)
But the cool thing about this class is the discussions we have. Just what is health, healing or wellness? What's the difference between disease, dis/ease and illness? These are all fascinating questions. I can't tell you how validating it is to have experiences and opinions listened to and valued in part of the discussion, even though I'm not a nurse, and have only had one semester of social work education.
One of the coolest things in class was this diagram, which was a wellness continuum, with "premature death" at one end, and "high-level wellness" at the other. A marathon runner is running toward the "premature death" end, and a person using a wheelchair is heading toward the "high-level wellness" end. It's not an editorial statement meant to paint all people with a brush; it's meant to point out that wellness is different for each indevidual. It gave us a chance to discuss how a "disability" doesn't automatically make a person "unwell", and conversely, someone who "looks fine" isn't always doing so well.
Knowing the whole person is an important part of treatment. Important clues to the illness or dis/ease are often found in the patient or client's story. Treating the whole person is part of the holistic model.
It is so good to see these things being talked about. I think it's often assumed that these changes aren't being sought from both sides of the bed. I think it's so easy to feel like giving up and not sharing our stories, and who we are because we feel it won't make a difference. But what I've found is that in my own walk with RSD, and in this class, there are those who do want to help and who do want to hear our stories.
It seems to me that it's much like working with a guide dog. Neither the dog, nor the handler has the whole responsibility. If I just let Julio take over and treeat our walks passively, then I'm going to have problems. I may or may not get anything out of the relationship, and I may not go anywhere. Julio has to be willing to take input from me, though, or we'll never go anywhere either. It's just like that with medicine, in my opinion, or so cial work for that matter. The patient/client cannot just sit passively by and wait to be cured. The patient must provide input, and bring all of who they are to the healing (much like how I use many parts of who I am to communicate with Julio). The practitioner can be an excellent guide, but getting somewhere (producing positive change) only happens when the practitioner receives and accepts input from the patient. It's a partnership.
This leads into the idea of healing without cure. Sometimes every part of my being wants to scream at that thought. I want to get rid of this RSD darn it! I don't want to live well with it. I want to live well without it. But that, in and of itself, can be an area for growth and healing.