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Editor's Commentary on 'Feeling Unprepared'

 , March 14, 2014

“but all is well at home / no problems no questions no concerns / keeping on keeping on / trying to remember to do my stretches and exercises”

Feeling Unprepared” by B. Allyn Behling-Rosa takes us through the experience of visiting a patient in her home, realizing that “doing okay” doesn’t always mean what it says. Front door broken, empty refrigerator, no transportation, no support. Compliance is a loaded term. In the hospital, all patients look like patients, their identity obscured by the drab gown and hospital lighting. Surely there are differences in dialects, skin color, hair style, but some portion of the patient’s identity is left in the parking lot when patients are brought into the hospital. Hidden burdens often stay hidden, perhaps out of shame, perhaps out of fear. These hidden burdens can certainly impact a patient’s ability to heal.

“didn't they tell you that I couldn't find a ride to therapy anymore / didn't they tell you I had to change my insurance / didn't they tell you I forgot who I was supposed to follow up with / that's okay, I'm feeling fine, keeping on”

Without better understanding the truth of our patients’ lives, we cannot understand how to help them heal. Perhaps the first step is to know that we do not know.
Bryan Sisk, MD
Deputy Editor, The Living Hand