PreKure’s Lead Coach, Sonya English, used to work at the bottom of the cliff in acute care medicine. Some days she feels guilt for leaving the healthcare system, but she has a strong belief that helping people find the knowledge and confidence to be the author or their own health will lead to better health outcomes. The bottom-line, says Sonya, is hope.
That feeling of dread. We all know it.
The clinician looks you in the eye and says that you, or your loved one, have a disease of the heart, lungs, brain or kidneys. You/they, must be on medication for the rest of their lives. This is the solution. There is a period of grief, a period of anger, then acceptance and after a while, life becomes relatively normal. This new normal becomes a kind of denial. I can do what I used to do, I am in good health, I can accept my lot.
For 30 years within the speciality of acute care medicine, I have asked the clinical question of my patients: ‘What is your health history?’ I have heard:
I am in good health.
I am active.
I take tablets, but I am really healthy.
I am limited by…but…
I have witnessed increasingly younger patients come to hospital with actively deteriorating health. It is heart-breaking.
I have seen their age getting younger, their confusion getting stronger, their acceptance more easily gained. It is in the old French word for ‘patient’ itself that we find the answer. ‘Patient’ means ‘to endure without complaint’.
I have witnessed these increasingly younger patients as they come to hospital with actively deteriorating health, underlined by chronic health that is seen, it is managed, but not heard. It is just there. It is conversely often preventable and even reversible. It is heart-breaking.
My drive is simply to be part of better health outcomes. The bottomline – hope.
Recently, I stopped my acute care practice and took on the position as a lead Faculty member at PreKure, teaching Health Coaches. My drive is simply to be part of better health outcomes. The bottomline – hope. It was through the recent words of one of our PreKure Health Coach students themselves, that my own lightbulb moment happened. She said, ‘When people go into our health system, they lose touch with their intuition about their bodies and their whole selves’.
Why have we as humans lost the knowledge, the trust, the confidence to be the driver, to be the author of our own health journey?
This was it. Why have we as humans lost the knowledge, the trust, the confidence to be the driver, to be the author of our own health journey? Is this the sequel to our post World War II endeavours to reach a worldwide state of ‘absence of disease, or the symptoms of disease’? Like a revolving door, I have seen the medicated blunting and absence of symptoms, as a mask on what’s to come. I am curious, what does health and being healthy really mean to us as a human race, as communities, as individuals?
Chronic disease vulnerable to pandemic
No written piece in 2020-2021 can avoid the Covid-19 pandemic discussion. This communicable (highly contagious) virus is not what I speak of. Covid is, however, very relevant to the topic of a life that has observed the tragedies of non-communicable (not contagious) chronic disease. I am talking about hypertension, heart disease, obesity, fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, dementia, kidney disease – the list goes on. Those with chronic disease are the unspoken. They are the ones who show up at our hospital doors in the night waiting, worrying and crossing their fingers silently under the covers. They are the vulnerable to our pandemic. As healthcare professionals we expect them.
The greatest medicine of all is to teach people how not to need it. ~Hippocrates
From outside of the acute care health system for the first time in 30 years, and as a Health Coach, what do I see? What do I feel? I see new perspective and opportunity. An opportunity to work with people seeking wellness, and people fighting chronic illness to take stock, take control and gain confidence.
I feel guilty on many days for leaving ‘the system’, for its strings pull at my willingness to care. I feel strong on other days, strong to still care, and to care enough to take on a new fight. The fight that is a flipped view of health. This view is to proactively help people find the self-belief, find their ‘why’ and the tools to keep them out of the healthcare system. To put them back in touch with their intuition, to trust their own mind and be curious in knowing how their bodies work. What nourishes them? What makes them feel alive?
What is missing?
- Our support networks. Our drive to be well. It is the human condition to need to belong and have the support of others to take those small steps, that lead to big ones on our health journey. The support to practice new skills, to be uncomfortable, to fall and to get up again. To persist in creating new patterns and habits that will lead to a long health span and not only lifespan.
- A toolbox of simple mental first aid, just as we have physical first aid. First aid that knows we all struggle, that accepts tough days.
- Help without judgement and without assumptions. Help that simply asks, ‘What is most important for you right now?’. Help that overcomes the obstacle of understanding what is really going on in our bodies. That ensures a knowing of the ‘superpowers’ of our human health. These powers, they are simple: movement, muscle strength, real whole food, social connection, sleep, mental wellbeing and finding joy.
These superpowers are the vision of PreKure’s future health that empowers people to live healthy happy lives. This is supported by the Health Coaches of now and the future. I feel so fortunate to have discovered the amazing preventative community that is PreKure.
It can only be said so eloquently by one of our great human minds and the father of medicine, Hippocrates: ‘The greatest medicine of all is to teach people how not to need it’.
Sonya English is PreKure’s Lead Coach and a Registered Nurse.
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