Healing

Welcome back to #hcldr. Last week, we took a break because it was Election Day in the US…which ultimately turned into Election Week. As I watched the 24/7 coverage, one question kept rolling through my mind: Where can I get one of those interactive TVs?

But in all seriousness, the 2020 US Election was wholly unique – not just because of the two candidates, but because of the circumstances surrounding the election itself. We have never had an election during a deadly pandemic AND in the middle of a racial equality movement not seen since the 1960s.

No matter where on the political spectrum you fall, what’s clear is that the US electorate is traumatized. People are either scarred from the last 4 years or have an impending sense of doom because of who won the US election. That’s probably why there has been a repeated call for Americans to begin the process of healing the nation. Every media outlet has said it and US President-Elect, Joe Biden made it a cornerstone of his transition plan.

All the talk about healing, got me thinking about the actual process of healing after a traumatic event – the loss of a loved one, recovery from an intensive medical procedure or battling a deadly disease. Are there lessons we have learned about healing as individuals that could then be applied to a nation?

Although we won’t be talking about THAT particular question this week on HCLDR, we will be discussing the healing journey.

In a post from 2018, author Kristina Wright @KristinaWright made the following powerful statements about her recovery from septic shock in the ICU in 2015:

  • The emotional trauma of the hospitalization lingered long after I got the all-clear from the doctors who cared for me while I was in the hospital.
  • Though I was physically well enough to be discharged, I wasn’t completely well.
  • Some days, I was convinced I’d gotten through septic shock unscathed. Other days, I felt like I’d never be well again.
  • I can’t live my life waiting for the next emergency before I see a new doctor, but I also can’t seem to get past the anxiety that keeps me from managing my healthcare properly.

In her post, Wright pointed to the need for more support for patients after an ICU stay. I would say it’s not just patients from ICU that need more support after they are discharged from hospital.

We are learning every day of more and more COVID-19 patients who are suffering from lingering health issues after recovering from the deadly virus. Called “COVID long haulers”, these individuals are experiencing issues in their lungs, heart, immune system, brain and elsewhere. Early in the pandemic, long-haulers were likely not taken seriously, and it was only when enough of them raised their collective voices that scientists and clinicians took note.

As the number of patients diagnosed and recovering from COVID-19 continue to increase (now well into the millions as positive tests continue to climb worldwide), how can healthcare support these individuals as they wrestle with the physical and mental aspects of recovering from this virus?

I am not an expert in healing but as I was researching the topic ahead of our next HCLDR chat, I became fascinated with all the different technologies and methodologies available to help people heal. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, for example, is a fantastic new treatment that helps patients get more oxygen into their body which helps fight bacteria and stimulate the release of growth factors and stem cells both of which promote healing. This therapy can help patients who suffer from:

  • Burns
  • Infections
  • Diabetic foot ulcers
  • Radiation injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

In contrast to the modern advancement of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to promote healing is the tried-and-true approach employed by Indigenous people. Indigenous and First Nations peoples have long believed in a holistic approach to healing and wellness. For centuries they recognized that there is an emotional as well as spiritual aspect to healing. They also realized that healing is not an individual journey – family and the community at large have a role to play in a person’s healing.

I find it a bit ironic that Western medicine has started to embrace community, population and mental health. We’ve come full circle.

On Tuesday November 10th at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here), please join me as we discuss the topic of healing:

  • T1What advice do you have for those that WANT to help a friend, family member or loved one to heal but don’t know how to broach the subject?
  • T2 What type of support can healthcare organizations offer patients who are discharged, but who may not be fully “healed”?
  • T3 What healing technologies or methodologies are you intrigued by or have worked for you?
  • T4 What ideas do you have for healing-at-scale? (ie: social media groups, healing societies, local healing clubs)

Resources

Wright, Kristina. “I Had PTSD After a Critical Illness. Apparently That’s Fairly Common.”, healthline, 20 July 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/ptsd-after-icu-post-intensive-care-syndrome#Patients-need-more-support-from-our-healthcare-system-after-ICU-stays, accessed 8 November 2020

Yerramilli, Pooja. “I have all the symptoms of a Covid-19 long-hauler — but I’m hesitant to identify myself as one”, Stat, 26 October 2020, https://www.statnews.com/2020/10/26/hesitant-identify-myself-as-covid-long-hauler/, accessed 8 November 2020

Komaroff, Anthony. “The tragedy of the post-COVID “long haulers””, Harvard Medical School, 15 October 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-tragedy-of-the-post-covid-long-haulers-2020101521173, accessed 8 November 2020

Marshall, Michael. “The lasting misery of coronavirus long-haulers”, Nature, 14 September 2020, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02598-6, accessed 8 November 2020

Arnault, Denise Saint and Sinko, Laura. “Hope and Fulfillment After Complex Trauma: Using Mixed Methods to Understand Healing”, Frontiers of Psychology, 20 September 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6764148/, accessed 8 November 2020

“Self-Care and Recovery After Trauma”, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/ss/slideshow-emotional-trauma-self-care, accessed 8 November 2020

“First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness”, First Nations Health Authority, https://www.fnha.ca/wellness/wellness-and-the-first-nations-health-authority/first-nations-perspective-on-wellness, accessed 8 November 2020

“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy”, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy/about/pac-20394380, accessed 8 November 2020

Image Credit

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

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