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The Expert Patient #patientpractitioner #collaboration #endometriosis #endo

Hi Lisa, It's such a pleasure to have a fresh voice in the house.

Thank you for being so openly collaborative, generous with your knowledge, and for all the energy you've invested in your own wellness journey so far.

Readers, Lisa came to me 7/8ths-baked.... she really knows her stuff. She sat on my consulting couch and shared her story with such eloquence that she has rightly earned the title "Expert Patient".

I was honoured to be invited onto Lisa's team, because, Lisa’s really done her research.

It's true I'm very particular about who is on my health team. I believe in being an informed healthcare consumer. Alexis is right, I've done my research on my team members. And I base that decision on a lot more than their title or degree! Letters behind a name only tell half of the story at most. My health team is comprised of "extraordinary humans" and who they are as people will always be most important to me.

I'm delighted to share this new approach to the Patient-Practitioner relationship which meets our mutual need for the third pillar of Trauma-Informed Policy: Collaboration.

It's so exciting to be collaborating with Alexis and growing and learning together and to be finding an outlet for my thoughts and experiences. Otherwise they would still be locked up in a box in my mind labelled 'things I want to share but don't know how' and you wouldn't be reading this!

Would you like to tell us a bit about your background? How you came to be here at One Natural Therapies?

I've come to be at One Natural Therapies through a combination of my personal and professional experiences. I've spent the last 10+ years working in dental and medical/allied health practices and I'm passionate about my work. Late last year, my body let me know that it was time to rest. I'd been managing the front desk for a small practice and had put everything into the role. As much as I loved my work, I'd put my complex health needs on the backburner for too long. After much soul-searching, I made the decision to quit my job and reinvent my life, intentionally this time, with the focus on balance!

You're also a precious member of The Yoga & Psychology Community. Many of you will have seen Lisa's name on our Facebook LIVE@5 discussions, or have met Lisa at our Monthly NVC Practice Group.

I've so appreciated having the Community, both online and in person. Reinventing my life has come with a lot of changes, and the Community has been a welcome constant.

Most of our members have some link with the Health System as practitioners, and of course all of us are consumers of The Health System. Would you like to share a little about where you sit in the Health System? As a career? As a consumer?

Career-wise, I've been the voice answering the phone, the one greeting patients as they walk through the door, the one juggling the bookings calendar behind the scenes to make your visit run as smoothly as possible and the one that is there for the patient. What does 'being there for the patient' mean? To me, it's being the professional I want to support me when I'm the patient. The one who listens to me, who genuinely cares, who takes the time to reassure me when I'm uncertain and advocates for my best interests. As a consumer, these are things I look for in a practitioner and in a clinic.

Reception and admin staff play a huge role in humanising healthcare. Calling a practice to make an initial booking and having a warm, caring, empathetic person on the other end of the line can alleviate a lot of the anxiety that taking that first step of making an appointment often brings.

Having worked in healthcare, I can tell you first hand, that the best, most human, practitioners have the best, most human support teams. A warm, helpful first impression of a practice is a good sign you're on your way to a seeing an 'extraordinary human' doctor.

So, alongside our shared experiences in consultation, some less predictable than others (?!) we've been meeting for supervision-come-collaboration. Would you like to share a little about this "baby" that's emerging?

Alexis had a front row seat to the unpredictability of my health during a consultation recently, when a sudden increase in pain and a need for medical attention interrupted our plans. Sharing that experience and our humanness within it led to a conversation around Endometriosis and became a collaboration around what positive impact we could make. This blog post is the first step.

And so, I'd love to hear about what you've found in this space so far? eg themes/ conversations on social media, interesting articles, ideas stimulated, and anything else you'd like to capture.

I could talk on this topic for hours! Women with Endometriosis know how hard it can be to live with. We turn to Doctors looking for help. And far too often, the help feels unhelpful. This is a huge theme on social media.

Naturally there are questions about symptoms and day to day life with Endo. 'How do I get a second opinion?' is asked frequently. Patients are feeling unheard by Doctors and looking for better care options.

We're navigating a complex medical system, where care is often fragmented. Best practice treatment for Endometriosis is multidisciplinary care. Even moreso for those of us with multiple medical conditions. In today's health culture, finding multidisciplinary care often means building your own team. I plan to share my own experiences of building that team and what to look for as you build your own.

And what are some of the knowledge gaps in the area?

Endometriosis is being researched extensively and there is still a lot we don't know. There are limited treatment options, and patients are spending years waiting for a diagnosis.

Patients' goals for treatment also vary widely from fertility treatment to pain management and everything in between. This is why a collaborative team approach between patients and Doctors has such value. To quote Michael J Fox, 'The people living with the condition are the experts.' Effective treatment of Endometriosis requires Doctors and patients working together. Imagine how differently you would feel walking out of a consultation with your GP where they asked 'how can I best support you?' or said 'let's work out a care plan together'. If they asked 'What are your goals? 'What are your most bothersome symptoms? and made treatment recommendations and referrals based on those goals? True care is more than a diagnosis from a textbook. The much needed nuance of true care is found in humanness. You're as individual as your fingerprint and you deserve an individualised approach to healthcare.

And what are the messages you think people in this space most need to hear?

Patients - your pain is real and you are deserving of medical help. The right medical help for you and your body.

Practitioners - listen to your patients, really listen and understand. We're not making things up. The pain is real and it's not in our head, it's in our pelvis! Listen to the human sitting across from you, and provide the best care for that individual you can.

Have you thought about the scope of your project?

I'm loving this blog as a starting point. It will likely become a facebook page linking to a recurring blog. There's scope for wider topics around Endometriosis and Chronic Health conditions/Pain in general and this will evolve over time.

So, is there some way people who are interested can stay across your updates?

This project is in its infancy, though it's growing fast. We will be sharing updates via The Yoga and Psychology Community on Facebook and will let you know where to find us as we evolve.

Alexis is a Somatic Naturopath interested in trauma-informed policy including collaboration.

Lisa is a Medical Receptionist and patient advocate helping people with complex health conditions navigate the health system.


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