Monday, November 28, 2011

Live in abundance

I live in abundance. In spite of a wavering economy, I find the means to go where I want and purchase the things I desire to have. I enjoy the everyday comforts of warm clothes in the closet and a house with the thermostat turned on. These facts may seem mundane, but are humbling when I hear the stories about people living in conditions much different than this. Places right here in Minnesota where abundance is often viewed but also includes many places where the word would rarely be applicable.

With the Thanksgiving season coming to a close and another even richer season approaches, I’m abundantly grateful for a multitude of things in my life. It’s a gratitude that goes beyond my worldly processions, in an abundance of family and friends, which consistently show me love and kindness. It’s a depth of gratitude, which flows from the medical situations that changed me and my family.

Just recently, I found myself abundant in random acts of kindness after being thrust back into a caregiver role due to my husband’s knee injury. He was struggling with an over abundance of pain following an arthroscopic knee procedure. The typical recovery was complicated and delayed by other issues. I was reminded how fortunate I am to not only have caring family and friends but extremely fortunate to have immediate healthcare relief. We have medical care that’s abundant in convenient locations complete with urgent response to patients and families in need of help. Many are not that fortunate.

It’s been said that in some areas of the world, if you have clothes to wear and food to eat you are considered fortunate and labeled rich. That statement often runs through my mind. I thought about it a few times during my husband's knee crisis. I think about it as I prepare my weekly grocery list. It comes to mind as I make my Christmas shopping list. From events to lists I see fortunate and rich defined in the many ways I'm confident I will always have enough. The challenge is to be content with the minimum and give from the abundance to others who won’t have enough.

Greatest abundance lies in what isn’t tangible. A quote by Johannes A. Gaertner says, “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” Patients, especially children suffering chronic or rare disease have a way of giving us a glimpse of heaven in their earthly life and exhibit a sense of gratitude not easily explained. A closer view almost always displays an abundance of gifts, gleaned from pain and suffering, which are not tangible. They are life lessons gifted to us and put value in seeking abundance outside of material things.

This season I hope to take a broader view and reach out to those who silently suffer, yet allow us to see a piece of heaven here on earth. This year, I’m adding to my wish list, the needs of those who lack. I want to give from my abundance, live gratefully and demonstrate gratitude in action.

Join me and Be The Change our world is waiting for.

Friday, November 11, 2011

BTC at U of M

I want to operate in sheer honesty as CEXO (Chief Experience Officer) of the Be The Change campaign. For that reason, I want to disclose my love-hate relationship with the University of Minnesota (U of M) Hospital and Clinics. My individual relationship with the U of M has two sides, both humanly connected but medically far apart, creating a complicated and emotional dynamic housed internally by me.

One side of me loves the fact I’m a Minnesota patient and family member that lives less than sixty minutes (based on unpredictable traffic) from a cutting edge healthcare campus. That includes a highly regarded learning environment, which one day, may educate the medical student who will find the cure to cancer or a rare disease like SIOD.

On the flip side, I hate the fact my son Michael and others like him suffer horrible diseases there. Among hope and possibility abundant throughout the U of M campus, looms the opposite in despair and uncalculated fear. To this day, when I enter the East Bank, I need to pause, take a deep breath and alert my commitment in the fight ahead, warring against the dark memories about to torment me.

Faithfully, I’m reminded of the change maker waiting in the shadows of that concrete jungle, my angel Michael. His legacies lead me back to the U of M with a different three ring binder these days labeled Be The Change. Back to where it was whispered to us years ago. Steps that are taken as testimony to Michael’s courage, I walk back into the pain and press past the fear, towards the change waiting on the other side of all that fear.

Last spring, in a changed capacity, I returned to the University of Minnesota, sharing our story with a group of nursing students and graduating nurse practitioners. I spoke about the little boy with a big disease who changed me, our family, and possibly a few healthcare providers at the U of M. I cited specific examples how medical and human experiences impacted Michael and our family not just in his life as a patient but in his whole life outside of the disease, beyond the concrete jungles.

I shared my vision for the Be The Change campaign stating, Be The Change isn’t just me or Michael. It’s us together. It’s the patient, family and provider together sharing healthcare responsibility in an enhanced relationship as partners, inside and outside the medical arena. A partnership where each of our perspectives is valued, and each of our experiences provides an expertise that’s utilized to its full potential.

A new relationship was created for me at the U of M Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs, in honor of Michael’s Be the Change legacy. It’s a healthcare team demonstrating patient family centered care beyond words. Ways WE can all Be The Change. Click here to view the Be The Change presentation at the U of M.

Now I’m familiar with another outstanding team of healthcare providers and educators at the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinics. It was well worth the deep breathes I had to take to get there. I can honestly say, the love side of my relationship with the U of M has increased and will continue to Be The Change.