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Healthcare vs Selfcare

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.

My mission is NOT to improve healthcare…

My mission is not to improve healthcare… no, it’s not a typo… keep reading…

And now that I have your attention, I will start over:

My mission is not to improve healthcare, however if I succeed in my mission, healthcare will be improved in the process.

In my experience, a period of frustration and hardship is often followed by insight and new levels of clarity. And the reward for the difficult times is the feeling of satisfaction, equal in strength to the sum of the frustration and luckily twice as positive as the other is negative.

My reward is seeing clearly that my mission is not to improve healthcare, but rather to use my experiences, knowledge and skills to help my fellow patients of all walks of life by giving them tools to strengthen themselves, thereby giving the individual the ability to improve his or her own healthcare meetings.

The sweet feeling of insights… and with insights come responsibility.

I am up for it, who wants to join me?




Sara Riggare (SaraRiggare)

Proud mother, engineer, PhD student on patient empowerment by IT, optimistic realist with Parkinson's. Not patient but im-patient. #QuantifiedSelf #Health20
Stockholm, Sweden

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