Talking to Patients

One of the most challenging aspects of my work is finding people who are living with health conditions and asking them to share their story with the whole world. I am always amazed, and touched, by people’s willingness to do this. I’ve discussed some very difficult subjects with people who are in the trenches. I’ve talked to people about their thoughts of suicide, how their marriages have survived despite serious physical and mental health challenges, and how they feel about the loss of their mobility and independence. We’ve talked openly about conditions that can lead to significant embarrassment and stigma, such as inflammatory bowel disease and severe skin conditions. For these conversations, and all the ones to come, I am very grateful. When I worked in health and medical public relations, we knew that putting a face on a disease or condition would make it real to readers and viewers. There’s always the difficulty when you do this of respecting people’s privacy and being realistic with them about the outcome of the piece. Most people want to share their story because they feel — correctly, I think — that if their story can help just one person feel less alone or make a healthy decision, the sharing is worth it. That’s how we connect as social creatures, learning from one another and supporting each other along the way. Yet even as I believe in that positive aspect of discussing difficult situations, I strive always to honor the stories of the people I write about. Here’s an example, if you are interested,¬†featuring the story of one of the most memorable men I’ve spoken with: http://www.everydayhealth.com/diabetes/suicide-and-diabetes-what-caregivers-should-know.aspx

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