Recently, Joan Vitello, Associate Chief Nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, inspired me talking about ‘trust’ at a nursing leadership seminar. I’ve thought about it every day since. Trust is a magic lever of best health – for e-patients, caregivers, professionals, teams, and organizations. Trust accentuates the possibilities: Trust that I’m OK, however I feel. Trust in my team members – they have best health in their hearts, whatever’s in their minds. Health is a marathon – trust fuels the fire of persistence – keepin’ on. I’m not a religious person, but I’m spiritual. Trust = faith. Having multiple sclerosis I know if I don’t use it, I lose it. Takes many times longer to regain it, if at all. Trust is like that. Lose it and need a recovery plan with help.
Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity covers stories of diverse caregiver experience; parents with exceptional children: children with deafness, dwarfism, Downs syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, or disability. Others are caring for children who are prodigies, transgender, conceived from rape, or committing crimes. It is a rich and exhausting tome (962 pages) — profoundly sad, exhilarating, and inspiring. Solomon interviews more than 300 families navigating a journey they didn’t choose, caring for their children, facing unexpected challenges. What can those of us committed to participatory medicine learn from their experience?
Individual best health depends on organizational best health. I spent a valuable portion of my professional career working in behavioral health. Organizations and individuals all suffer tragedies from time to time. Many similarities exist between organizational improvement and personal recovery. For example, an addicted person follows a longstanding behavior without question. The behavior affects the addict negatively, even tragically, but definitely results in poor performance. Resistance to change is fierce. The addict will not be forced to change. When the addict perceives the hopeless of the addiction, usually in a heightened state of collapse and despair, he or she becomes open to exploring new behavior patterns and significant belief systems become rearranged, thus creating positive change and subsequent improvement. Paradoxically, hope evolves from despair or surrender. Healing occurs first in the spirit, then in the mind and last in the body.