Two River Times March 2014 - Health & Wellness Column

Last month we alluded to movement being our medicine. So what can we do to empower our relationships with our wellness and medical professionals when we need them most? Prioritizing patient engagement has been an ongoing initiative in the medical world and will continue to be a dominant trend as advances in personalized medicine occur. But what is personalized medicine? According to Partners Center for Personalized Medicine, it's the opportunity to understand an individual's unique molecular biochemistry to better diagnose disease, suggest treatments for successful outcomes and mitigate the likelihood of adverse repercussions. It's a complex process with a lot of moving parts but at the core of all the science and clinical delivery is our collective ability to bond and communicate well with our team of experts to decide which course of action is best for us. So how do we show up well to maximize great teamwork in an era of openness, exciting emerging genetic discovery, advancing drug development and designer medicine for all? We go back to the basics of advocating well for ourselves from "our center".

Here are a few reminders for cultivating great relationships with your partners in wellness:

  1. When a course of treatment is recommended, ask for pointed details on the facts around efficacy for your condition. Ask about comparative outcomes for proposed treatments and ask about the underlying evidence for the diagnosis and if there are other interpretations to consider. Gather as much unbiased detail on the proposals at hand and if you can have another party "lean in" on the details, welcome them to your team.
  2. Ask about the side effects...both short and long term and if the answers aren't readily available, do more research or have your team deliver these results before making any final decisions. No questions is silly. Brilliant people ask for help when they need it. Be vulnerable...its courageous and if you're not sure, consider reading Brene Brown's newest book entitled Daring Greatly. You'll likely never apologize for asking a silly question again.
  3. Get your skin in the game. A great patient is one that shows up as a partner in the process of developing and delivering a wellness plan. If you need guidance on how to be a great patient, besides doing the committed work to keep yourself fit, informed and strong at any age, read Dr Bernie Siegel's book Love, Medicine & Miracles to learn about his experiences treating exceptional patients. You'll be inspired to then create your own plan for exceptional.
  4. Consider creating a complementary team of professionals to support your healing on an integrated basis. Many facilities are completely on board with integrated wellness today. If you need more, create your own wellness posse and ask your friends for referrals. Medicine and guided relaxation, as one example, can be a powerful combination and the beginning of a lifelong love affair even after the big decisions and treatments are settled.
  5. Appreciate your professionals. For years, we've been in touch with our team of lifesavers by dropping them a note, a card or an email sharing an occasional major milestone around more life thanks to their efforts and commitment to patient care. Create a great team and celebrate your collective success and gratitude for quality care through a medical challenge.
  6. Lastly, surrender the outcomes once you've made your best informed decisions. As we say in yoga, "be detached from the results"...do your best for the sake of doing well. As we age and commit to living more skillfully, we have an ongoing opportunity through medical and wellness challenges to be present for what we're given. Seems often that we think we can control reality but when we get out of our heads and into our hearts, we recognize that control is largely an illusion. So cultivate an ongoing relationship with yourself and your wellness team that celebrates authentic forward momentum so you can struggle less and savor more.

There is no doubt we live in challenging times with all the major shifts occurring in the medical wellness space. Hospitals and doctors are under pressure to provide excellent quality care with diminishing reimbursements while managing readmission rates, procedural complications and rates of infection to name a few recurring themes. Everyone seems to be doing more with less and the rapidity of change will keep us all challenged to keep the pace. But if we, as patients and wellness seekers are going to maximize our opportunity for a long and vibrant life, then we're responsible for contributing purposefully to reversing the global increase in chronic disease through healthy lifestyling, informed choices and empowered communication. We can all do better together as we leap thoughtfully into a long awaited Spring!

Dr. Vaughn with DonnaLyn

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is an integrated business/wellness spokesleader that speaks, consults and coaches on leadership resiliency from California to Cornell in the business, wellness, medical and consumer space to empower others. Work in motion is viewable at www.donnalyn.org. Locally, you can find DonnaLyn gratefully teaching macroeconomics at Brookdale, coaching entrepreneurs at the Small Business Development Center or providing client care at Couch Braunsdorf Insurance and Heritage Benefits Group LLC, Red Bank. In her spare time she shares the gift of yoga with her cherished clients and friends. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks.