This past week has been full of issues related to health – both dis-ease and wellness.
My wife and I are of the age where it seems that one friend or another is facing a health challenge. It would take both hands to count those in our lives who either are facing – or have faced and survived – various forms of cancer. A couple of “older” friends have suffered from spinal issues. Just this week, a long-time friend revealed that he has been diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson’s disease. (More on him in a minute.)
Facing the realities of health challenges, as well as maintaining wellness, will only increase as “my generation” of Baby Boomers reach the traditional years of “retirement.”
What kind of healthcare best serves as we seek to maintain wellness and respond to the challenges of aging?
In answer to that question, let’s turn to two doctors – and friends – who have been early adopters of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic): Ken Adams, MD and Scott Conard, MD (both from the Dallas, TX area).
Just this week, Ken launched the American Health Care Leadership Institute, with a provocative blog post. In it, he wrote: “In preventative medicine the physician will need to transition from the ingrained reactive practitioner to a proactive involved physician willing to employ best practices and lead a team that directly reaches out to patients and helps them aggressively manage their health… (and) to lead, coach, and encourage patients to become their healthiest self.”
Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being the guest of Scott on his All About Life radio program. The description of his hour-long program is “Take control of your health!” In my interview with him, we talked of my own experience with the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes several years ago.
Both Dr. Ken and Dr. Scott share the perspective of applying TED* as a framework for empowering healthcare.
The traditional model of healthcare is rooted in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), which casts the patient as the Victim, with the diagnosis or dis-ease as their Persecutor. The patient then turns to the doctor to be the Rescuer with the hope that some pill or procedure will “make it all better” (and with minimal effort or discomfort).
Instead, both Ken and Scott engage with a patient by seeing and treating them as a Creator who has the capacity to choose their response to their health and wellness and to play an active role in becoming their “healthiest self.” When a diagnosis, such as diabetes, manifests, they join the patient in seeing the malady as a Challenger. They work with the patient to learn, grow and choose the best course of action. The physician, then, acts as a Coach and, when appropriate, as a constructive Challenger.
An ideal patient for doctors Ken and Scott would be my friend facing his Parkinson’s diagnosis. His response is courageous and sober, as he learns about the current realities he is challenged by. However, instead of taking a Victim stance (which, naturally, he did initially), he has decided to meet the disease from the perspective of a Creator who sees this as part of his life experience. He even has given the disease a name in order to befriend it. At first he called it “Park,” but then realized that he wanted to refer to is as “ark” for it is a vessel in which he will travel and be in relationship with as he navigates the journey ahead.
We all will face our own health challengers – it is part of the human experience. Partnering with health care providers to become our healthiest selves and to choose the healthiest course of action when dis-ease arises makes all involved Co-Creators in empowering healthcare.