Why My Story Matters

Written by on December 18th, 2012 – 2 Comments

In early October, I went to the Blusson Centre, a beautiful new medical building in Vancouver that houses the UBC spinal cord injury research centre for the orientation for the UBC Interprofessional Health Mentors Program.

Way back in the spring, I went for an interview for the program and not long after that I got an email saying I’d been accepted. The way this program works is that future health care practitioners are matched with a Health Mentor who has a chronic illness and/or disability. The program offers students the opportunity for patient-centered learning through working with their mentor for a period of 16 months. This program has been accredited as part of their formal education and includes students from the medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, dietetics and speech and language pathology & audiology.

At the orientation, I finally got to meet the students I will be working with from now until January 2014. I have four lovely young women assigned to me. My students are studying medicine, nursing, dentistry and occupational therapy. In the current program, they’ve matched 200 students with 50 mentors. That’s amazing! My students and I had our first formal session in mid-October and I instantly felt a very positive vibe about how our group was going to mesh. I believe learning is a shared experience and I think this is going to be a great one for all of us.

I am really excited about participating in this program. I’ve been giving interviews to medical students for the past 3 1/2 years about what it’s like to live with MS but it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to have a greater impact on the future of our health care system. Canada has the second highest rate of MS in the world and yet, so many health care professionals don’t know anything about it. This lack of awareness just seems crazy to me so I’ve chosen to become a part of the solution, instead part of the problem. If I have to live with a cruddy, incurable disease, then I am  determined that some good has to come of it. Volunteering as a Health Mentor is part of how I am making that happen.

For more information on the UBC Interprofessional Health Mentors Program, please visit: http://www.chd.ubc.ca/dhcc/healthmentors

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2 Responses

  1. Michele C says:

    Lelainia – I think what you are doing is fantastic!! I am also greatful that you got me involved in the Health Mentors Program. I also have a set of four wonderful students and meeting with them has helped me to do some self awareness exercises. It is good to take a moment and reflect on your journey. One of the students told me that telling or writing your story is part of the healing process. So true!
    Keep doing what you are doing!!

  2. Lelainia says:

    Hey Michele! Thanks for the kind words and for always being so supportive. YOU are making a difference too!

    You are right about how telling your story helps you heal. I took an advanced training when I was on the crisis line about grieving and that was exactly what they said. If you told your story 100 times, every single time that story would be slightly different because you would always be in a different place dealing with it. Different pieces of it would stick out to you and others would be omitted or glanced over as you worked though how you felt about it. You may not even be aware of it. I have actually witnessed this happening and it’s really fascinating how our minds only allow us to deal with what it’s capable of handling, one small piece at a time.

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