They say that if you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t there. I do remember this about 1966, however: I spent my birthday that year in a hospital bed, where I’d been a patient for a full month recuperating from a ruptured appendix and a nasty case of peritonitis. Back then during the dawn of civilization, it was common for patients to spend far longer in hospital than we ever would now. For example:
I love the work of U.K. philosopher Alain de Botton, an explorer of the ‘philosophy of everyday life.’ He once wrote:
“People can accept you sick or well. What’s lacking is patience for the convalescent.”
Convalescence. It’s the gradual return to health while you still need time to recover from illness or medical treatment, usually by resting. For patients, it’s that fuzzy grey area in between feeling acutely ill and feeling 100% healthy again. The term comes from the Latin convalescere: “to grow fully strong.”
Most garden-variety convalescence is mercifully short. After spending a few days in bed with a flu bug, for example, you might feel a bit weak or shaky for a while. Not exactly sick anymore, but not yet 100%. Other forms of convalescence, however, may take weeks, months or even years of recuperation. And with some chronic and progressive disease diagnoses, everyday life can start feeling like one long endless period of convalescence – with good health merely a dim memory. The difference: unlike the historical practice of viewing convalescence as a distinctly separate and important stage of illness recovery, today’s convalescents may simply feel like they’re being forced to very quickly adjust to the “new normal” of life. Continue reading
When I spoke at the eHITS2014 Vancouver conference on health and technology recently, I was happy to share with the mostly-physician audience my enthusiasm for a new health care initiative called Flip The Clinic. Have you heard about it yet?
This Robert Woods Johnson Foundation project asks our health care providers to start thinking seriously “beyond the walls” about the way medicine is practiced during a doctor’s visit. Continue reading
I was recently reminded of the perverse nature of expectations (like expecting to feel happy and grateful after surviving a heart attack or other life-threatening diagnosis) when I read the following by Dr. Peter Kramer, who wrote this for The New York Times: Continue reading