Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why Stanford Medicine X is Better than Your Conference

I've had an absolutely terrible day. Honestly, today has been one of the worst days I have had in a very long time. My bad day started last night when I fell in my hotel room. I had taken my leg off, as usual I didn't bring my crutches with me (they're too bulky to travel with), I decided to take my clothes for today into the bathroom so I could just get dressed in there. I hopped my way into the restroom. Here's where the bad day starts, I had forgotten to take my sock off, this resulted in me trying to hop into the bathroom on the tiles with a can see where this is going. I slid and fell, striking the end of my stump against the hard rim of the toilet, then the ground. You know that feeling you get when the end of your femur pushes down into the muscles that have been stretched over the end of the cut bone? No? Well, it's excruciating. Imagine the worst toothache you've ever had and put it into bone. That's the best way I can describe it.

Now I know what you're thinking, what does this have to do with Med X being awesome? I'll tell you. Last night, @ChronicCurve came to check on me. Just to make sure I was OK. This led to me being checked on by @AfternoonNapper. I convinced them both that I will be fine and called it a night. Honestly, I lied. I wasn't OK. I was in immense pain every time I moved. I pushed through a sleepless night and got ready for the pre-conference course I had signed up for.

Now, here's where things get worse. Kate, my wife, messaged me from Louisville with a health issue. One that could possibly end up with her being hospitalized. This poses a problem. If Kate get's hospitalized then who will take care of the kids? What if a surgery is needed? I'm literally on the other side of the country and feeling quite helpless. I explained to @AfternoonNapper and @HurtBlogger everything that was going on. They were more than helpful; offering to move my presentation so that I could leave if need me and still complete my requirements of the ePatient Program. Kate refused me leaving early. She's a trooper and knows how important this conference is to me. All was going well, Kate had gotten in touch with her mother and worked out that if something happened she would come down to take care of the kids until I got back Monday. Once again, things seemed to be looking up. With all the stress I suppose my PTSD triggers were just waiting for the slightest reminder to go off...that reminder came in the peaceful (for most) form of a clear blue sky, a slight breeze, and the sounds of water crashing against rock. Instantly, panic set in. I had one of the worst panic attacks of my life. It ranks up there with the first one I ever had inside an MRI machine with a fixator attached to my leg. I was in a tailspin. The leg pain coupled with the issues at home that are beyond my control had sent me into a PTSD anxiety attack that had no mercy. @AfternoonNapper and @HurtBlogger went out of their way to make sure I was ok. Hooked me up with a set of headphones, a quiet place to gather myself, and even went as far as bringing my lunch to me, away from the crowds where I could attempt to regain some form of composure.

This is where MedX outshines all other conferences. It's OK to not be OK. It's OK to be a patient, to take off that mask of wellness we all wear everyday. You know what I mean, we all do it from time to time. Convincing everyone you're fine when on the inside you know it's not true. Be it a psychological issue like I had today, or as simple as working through a bad headache. Here those masks aren't necessary, you're surrounded by patient and providers alike. They understand that sometimes life happens and it's beyond your control. I've never seen another place like this. Not just a medical conference, but in general. It's a nearly Utopian ideal. Be who you are; sick, stressed, healthy, or a mixture of them all. It doesn't matter...That's why this conference is better than yours...It's not just a place where the patients finally have a voice. It's a place where the patients can finally drop their guard and be themselves and allow others help them cope; and with this environment the providers can finally see what patient life is really like and leave changed by the power of the patient life and narrative.


  1. Beautifully written & honest. You're absolutely in the best place you can be, even (especially) with falls & panic. You continue to inspire me, as well as so many more. Can't wait to see your speech. In the meantime, rock on, but stay upright! That description made me cringe & grab my own leg's stump. ;)

  2. I had no idea - I knew maybe 10% of what you had going on. You handled it with such grace, from my viewpoint. And for what it's worth, YOU are part of the reason MedX was such a great conference experience. So glad I got to meet you!

  3. I had no idea! I admire your tenacity - You are such a strong, inspiring man.

  4. Pain shared may not really reduce the screaming nerve-endings, but I hope that the emotional support beamed your way during MedX helped a bit. You're a tough, tender man, Joe. We're all glad to help cushion you in any way we can ...