Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Power of Understanding, Acknowledgement & Change

 This blog will be posted some time after it was written due to an outside directive to not talk about my living donor experience until after I have donated.  If you are reading this, it is because I have completed the donation process.

February 10, 2011

Today I went for what I thought would be my "go-no-go" appointment with the program lead surgeon (We'll call him Dr. S)  at Foothills. Turns out that's not what the appointment was all about.  While I knew there would be some "social media" talking done as an add on to the end of the appointment, what I didn't know is that this blog was really the only reason he wanted to see me.

First off I do need to say that the good doctor was just as lovely as that one review I mentioned in a previous post portrayed him. In life, if we are lucky, we get to meet people from time to time who love what they do-they are what they do and not necessarily in that workaholic, rat race running kind of way. What I mean to say is that you could tell within moments that he believes 100% in what he does and is always wanting to excel at it, make it the best it can be. Plain and simple he wants to make people with kidney disease have better lives via transplants. He wants there to me more transplants (and no we aren't talking volume here-they need to medically, ethically make sense) because it would make more people live longer, with a better quality of life. Of course he didn't really say any of this but it was all over his face, in how (not what) he spoke and how he related things in our conversation.

He started the meeting my letting me know he had read the whole blog (I can probably attribute many of the Calgary Health Authority server hits to him!). Dr. S said in 12 years of being involved in the program, this was the first blog of its kind he's ever seen and he really liked it. He said what the blog does is so important for future donors as it will help them know what to expect, understand some of the feelings they will feel and could encourage more people to donate. Dr S encouraged me, should I donate, to consider turning my experience into a book.

Dr. S then went over his view of the social media policy and my case specifically. I really got the feeling he was explaining the policy and the risks it was attempting to mitigate, from his perceptive rather than a "corporate" one. I appreciated that. He wasn't trying to "beat a dead horse"; rather he was trying to create a dialogue about the potential good the policy can deliver while recognizing that in other ways, it might indeed be a cause of concern. He wasn't defensive or preachy-it was a really good discussion in which I felt very equal. More importantly, he was really genuine which really restored any linger doubts or reservations I had about the program as a result of how I felt I had been treated.

Towards the end of our conversation, the social worker and the program coordinator were invited into the room. Dr S had asked me to repeat some of my thoughts and feelings as to how everything had unfolded. Initially they were a little defensive although they said they weren't (their body language and tone said otherwise). I think as females there is something inherently defensive in everything we do and we don't even realize it. Its not a bad thing-its a protection thing.  We protect ourselves, our families and anything we put our heart and soul in. I would have been no different in their shoes. They were very receptive though and although I was emotionally exhausted and very hungry (given that it was part 1PM and breakfast was a distant memory), I appreciated their time spent with me and all that came out of it.

I am glad that hopefully things they learn from me and our experience together will help build a better program and ultimately help more people. I feel more confident that an administrative hiccup won't be the straw that broke the camel's back for someone else because there were moments where it came pretty close for me. I'm impressed by so many of the people who dedicate their professional lives to this program in some capacity.  Beyond their medical abilities, they have a hope, a grace and a human kindness that you don't see too often, let alone all within one group. I have often said that in life, its not about the mistakes you make but how you handle them-that measures your intelligence and success as a person. In a world where "it's not my fault" and hiding behind corporate speak and fear of liability is all too common, its good to see that real people can exist and be themselves, especially in a giant health care organization.

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