Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Expert Patient

After a few years with a chronic illness we certainly become experienced, but that alone does not make us experts.  Achieving expert status takes work.

                                We Are Experienced

Does it really take 10,000 hours to become expert? In the case of illness endurance alone is not enough.  You've got to go out of your way to find out more. Educate yourself and you may become a knowledge expert, a support expert or maybe a connector or aggregator who puts information and people together for everyone's good.

I have found active Yahoo Groups in specialized areas. Sometimes the level of information available is due to one dedicated person.  Often it is core group which patiently covers the topics over and over as new people come along with an acute problem, use the advice and move on as their problems resolve. It's hard to keep a group going long term and many of them are gone when you go back a few years later.

I was lucky to find some real experts who saw me through two bouts of shingles.  
Illustration from Atlas of Human Anatomy, Frank Netter MD. Illustration showing how shingles spreads in bands (Dermatomes) on the body

When I went looking for a group with information about Fuchs Dystrophy I think I found the motherlode at a Yahoo group called fuchsfriends which is "a place of support and information for people with Fuchs' corneal endothelial dystrophy"


These "patient experts" are so much help because they not only have a narrow focus on a specific disease but also they also have personal experience.  I am a member of another group where the moderator's signature is "Gina, Not an MD". Her advice is so good that the disclaimer is necessary. (Of course all such groups come with an additional disclaimer saying advice is not to be construed as medical advice)

Online support is a valuable commodity and I am lucky to be in a very long term supportive group at ra-factor.  Gilly, the group owner and "list mom", is one of the most empathic and consistent people I know.

                               Valuable commodity

She said she does it because she can't imagine not doing it. Even on vacation she wonders how we all are doing.  She says "It's nice to talk to people, like a family" And after many years of conversation with these friends who "get it" because their problems have similarities to mine I would like to go visit them all in real life.

It would be quite a journey - to the UK, Australia, Canada and all over the US. Where but online would we ever have met and shared so much ?

And here we all are (approximately):

There are complaints about this map. More people wanted to be the cat than anything. Others said "Where are the dogs?" Our Texas member said we might as well just put a gun on Texas based on some current political moves.

                              A favourite "Welcome to the Group" gif


  1. Complaints? Good grief! I think it's awesome! Thank you for including me up here in Alaska! Just what is that on Alaska though? Gena

  2. Alaska has a rather big headed cat waving at you. It has a nice red bow around the neck. There was a serious shortage of dogs. Glad you're there