Raise Your Dues So We Can Turn the Titanic?

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Heard on the street (and on the phone, and during and in-person conversation, and by text….)

IFs and THENs:

If [the healthcare system] was just ______, then ______ !

You’ll have your own variations to fill in there, like:

  • If healthcare was less expensive, then more people could get care!
  • If doctors would spend more time with me, then I could get my questions answered!
  • If insurance would just cover it, then my client could get the treatment she needs!
  • If there were more specialists to cover my ailment, then I wouldn’t have to wait so long for an appointment!

…. and the list goes on and on.

In the 15 years I’ve been working in patient empowerment and advocacy, I have been asked hundreds of times to work on fixing those kinds of problems. I’ve been invited to Washington, DC. I’ve been asked to sit on committees, I’ve been hired as a consultant…

However!

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Simon and Garfunkel – an Anthem to Advocacy

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OK, yes, I’m dating myself…  One of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs is Bridge Over Troubled Water. I’ve been humming it repeatedly over the last few weeks, and last week, we let the advocacy world know why.

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

The lyrics – are like an anthem about advocacy, aren’t they?  The idea that one person can help another person by creating a bridge over the problems, to make the path to the other side smoother. It’s the work advocates do every day, proudly, passionately, and most often with incredibly positive results.

Beyond the lyrics, the metaphorical bridge goes even further, which is what has prompted the song to run through my head most recently.

So – what happened last week?

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Johnny Carson, Game Shows, and a Lesson about Trust

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Back in the 1950s, into the 1960s, a game show called Who Do You Trust? aired where couples were asked questions, and one had to “trust” the other to answer it (or not!). If you remember the show (some of us do) you may also remember that Edgar Bergen (yes, Candace Bergen’s father) was the MC for the show.

However, what you may not remember is that a year or two into the show, Bergen was replaced by Johnny Carson – who often “helped” the couples get the right answers. He helped them – well – TRUST.

The irony of this particular game show, one with TRUST in the title, is that it aired during the years of the game show scandals – yes – scandals! The game show scandals were all about cheating, and giving answers to pre-determined winners, and money changing hands in ways it shouldn’t.

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Help Us Assess the LoveFest!

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Once upon a time, the word “advocate” was contentious: doctors didn’t want us in the room, nurses didn’t want us next to a hospital bed, and health insurers thought we patient advocates were nothing but troublemakers.

But in recent years there seems to have been a major shift in attitudes. I’m hoping you can help us assess that.

This point came up in several recent conversations with people who have been doing advocacy work for many years; who have been able to observe attitudes for quite awhile, and who tell me they have seen this shift with their own eyes.

The shift?  From wary standoffishness – to a lovefest! 

As follows:

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Serving One’s Country as a Healthcare Soldier

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Over the holiday weekend – Memorial Day Weekend – I pondered the sacrifices soldiers have made for our country. I expect you did, too.

I’m married to a retired soldier. My husband spent 20 years in the US Air Force during the VietNam War era. I’m so very, very proud of him and his service. Patriotic holidays have a special meaning to us because, well, he lived it. (I was not married to him in those years.) We are grateful to, and honor those who served, including those who lost their lives.

All this pondering, and the tendency of my mind to wander (!), got me thinking about a different form of service, too.

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