I am a doctoral student at a medical university, but I am also a patient. What does the concept “patient” really mean? When is a person a “patient” and when is he/she something else?
The word “patient” is derived from the Latin word “patiens” and the original meaning is “one who suffers”. In the current version, the word also comprises the context in which the “patient” finds him/herself, meaning that a “patient” is someone who seeks help from a care provider or a helper for some kind of health issue. If the person with the health issue does not have a helper, he/she is not a “patient” but “only” ill.
This definition got me thinking… So a person with an illness is really only a “patient” in the context of healthcare… Which brings me to the strange picture in the beginning of this post. The picture consists of 8766 circles, each representing one hour and together they make up the number of hours in a year.
I visit my neurologist once or twice a year, about 30 minutes each time in the care for my Parkinson’s. That is one hour each year in healthcare for my chronic disease. If you look very closely at the picture, you might see that one of the circles is of another colour than the rest. That orange circle symbolises the time I spend in healthcare every year for my neurological disease. And the rest of the circles, all 8765 of them, each symbolises one hour I spend practicing selfcare.
In my mind the relationship 1:8765 raises two questions:
- When will we see even a fraction of the resources being spent on improving the one hour of healthcare being invested in supporting selfcare in chronic diseases?
- What to call ourselves when we are spending time in selfcare?
All suggestions and answers are welcome!
If you want to use the picture, please feel free to download it from this post.