Knowledge as empowerment

“Hi, Dr. Lim,

“I’ve had RA for 23 years, but it has only been during the last three years or so that I’ve really learned about this disease, thanks to Internet medical websites and patient/doctor bloggers. When I was first diagnosed, there was very little info about RA available to patients. My doctor at the time, an internist, explained the basics to me, but of course, the basics really aren’t enough. I spent many, many years deeply frustrated by having to take medicines with unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side-effects, only to discover that, one by one, they didn’t relieve my pain nor cure my disease.

“Today, I understand a lot more about RA and the drugs used to treat it. I know and accept that RA is a uniquely individual disease; not only do the symptoms and intensity of the disease vary from person to person, but how each person’s body reacts to the different drugs varies as well. I understand, now, my own frustration and anger (and have forgiven myself for it). And I also understand how frustrated my poor internal medicine doc must have been when his compassionate attempts to treat me failed time and time again.

“Today, with the help of a good rheumatologist, a combination of drugs and a much better education about the disease itself, my RA is under fair control.

“I guess what I’m saying here is thank you. I’m simply delighted that good doctors like yourself are doing all they can to educate not only their patients about their illnesses, but also pass that vital information on to the world at large. It’s SO important for patients to understand all they can about the diseases they battle, particularly diseases like RA: mysterious, terribly painful, potentially disabling, sometimes deadly and so far, incurable. Thank you for taking the time to post about your specialty and the diseases you treat. Your dedication, care and compassion for those of us who cope with these diseases is greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future. Knowledge translates to hope and empowers us all.”

I wrote the above as a comment to a post written by Dr. Irwin Lim, an Australian

Dr. Irwin Lim

rheumatologist, a few weeks ago. Dr. Lim recently took up blogging. He writes that he was encouraged by his business manager to start a blog as a marketing tool, something that seemed vaguely mercenary to him. For a long time, he resisted.

And then, this:

“A few more weeks passed. During this time, I experienced a strange run of patients developing unpredictable, serious side effects to medications I commonly use to treat their pain and to prevent their joint destruction. In all cases, the patients attended hospital and there were aspects to their treatment that suggested a lack of understanding about their underlying disease states and the medications they were using. And this lack of understanding occurred on the part of the staff treating them, and to an extent, the patient’s family members.  I had previously thought that I was good at communicating and educating my patients. I need to do better. I accept that I have a responsibility to educate the people around them, both medical and social. One way of doing this is through this blog.

“I hope to share with you my thoughts on musculoskeletal disease, healthcare in general, and our Connected Care philosophy. While I know that I am opinionated, I hope that I can interest you and maybe, even educate you in some way. Who knows, I may even be able to use social media to actually help someone. ”

Well, yes.

Dr. Lim is not only a good doctor, he’s a good writer. His posts are chock full of useful, insightful information. Still, I hesitated to add his blog to my blog roll because its main purpose is to market his medical group. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but by adding his blog, I felt I’d be perceived as advocating his medical practice. Since I live on the other side of the world from Dr. Lim and am not one of his patients, such advocacy seems both unwise and untoward.

It was a real conundrum. Today, I visited Dr. Lim’s blog again, and found even more useful information about a variety of subjects, including sciatica (his wife has been battling it), osteoporosis, RA and several posts by his colleagues about physical therapy.  Impressive. All of the posts are thoughtful and well-written. It’s info that people like me, who cope with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases, can use to better understand and manage their condition.

While I in no way advocate Dr. Lim’s business, I surely do advocate his knowledge and ability to put it into layman’s terms in his excellent blog posts. Such good information should be shared, and to that end I’ve added BJC Health: Connected Care, to my blog roll. I encourage you to visit Dr. Lim’s blog and hope you’ll find it as inviting and informative as I have.

P.S.: I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of you for your compassionate thoughts and comments regarding my Mom as she battled sciatica and, later, that serious and debilitating nausea. The good vibes you sent our way helped me keep my own spirits up. Mom is doing very much better with each passing day. She feels good, her pain level is nearly nil and, to my astonished delight, she’s eating with real gusto and enjoyment. The change in her is night-and-day. What a huge relief!

And thank you, too, for your constant encouragement regarding my hip bursitis. There’s not much to say about that at the moment, except that it continues, it hurts and I look forward to physical therapy soon in the hope that it will provide some relief.

Have a lovely, peaceful Sunday, friends. Walk in beauty.

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