Today I volunteered at the Triangle Caregivers Conference, which is a collection of vendors/exhibitors as well as sessions for caregivers who are taking care of spouses or parents or relatives with a debilitating disease. It was a really interesting experience and I enjoyed the many conversations I had with people who were interested in the only Indian girl under 30 at the conference. By that I mean, only Indian, only person under 30. Both things. 

One of the things that really struck me was how careful these caregivers have to become in what they say to their impaired loved one and also to the children of the family who will take offense to the mood swings that their grandparents are having or be so hurt that their grandparent won't remember them. You have to lie to your loved one sometimes, just to keep the peace and hold down the fort. You have to give children only age appropriate information. You have to do this without guilt. That's something I would have a lot of trouble with, lying to someone who can't comprehend it and feeling okay with that. Sometimes it is for the best, but being open about the fact that chaos is happening in the family and accepting it and dealing with it is important.

Another thing that struck me was how important it is to take time for yourself and not feel guilty about it. If you don't take some time off from full time care for another person, you will get burned out. It probably feels like a selfish thing at first to take time off, even when it's from someone that you really care about, but having to handle them for that long without any appreciation back takes a toll I'm sure. Caring for yourself is just as important as caring for whom you care about, because without you there would be no one to care for them. I think this is one of the things I don't do enough of because instead of taking care of my own health, I'm always worrying about other things and other people. I won't be able to take care of people as a doctor if I don't figure out how to treat myself right first, right?

There were a lot of exhibitors there that were for things like assisted living places and senior insurance and stuff. When a career is so important, these things become necessary in America for couples to take care of their parents or spouses for each other. You can't leave them alone at home so you need some sort of help. This kind of thing isn't in Indian culture at all, I think, and assisted living and all is not a common thing for Indians to use. We have such a strong sense of responsibility for our parents that giving the responsibility of them to another doesn't seem like the right thing to do. Whether they have to change a work schedule or work from home more often, I think we tend to make those kinds of changes in our culture. I don't think this conference was really about giving your parents responsibilities to someone else, more like take a load off of you when you have to go to work or need to relax, but I still think I would hesitate before I put my loved ones in the hands of someone else. 

I also read this article a few days ago that my PI showed me about the death of Dr. Arnold Relman, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine (you can find it here). It talks about the problems that he had said that the American health system had in it, like the fact that it has become a profit-driven industry. Both patients and medical services are looking for economically attractive solutions, but unfortunately, this happens to be different for each of them. Medical services today prescribe medicines and tests in ways that are not best fit for the patient, just because they are afraid of misdiagnosing, so they prescribe it all. Insurance companies are no better financially. I truly hope that this system doesn't get the best of me and sometime in the near or far future, our medical system makes some kind of change for the better. It astounds me how some of our biggest problems in America are healthcare and economics and well, pretty much everything is a problem in America, in India political corruption is such a problem yet somehow the medical system there seems better in some ways. I don't know about as a whole, but I've heard so many more cases of doctors in India that charge so much less and prescribe exactly what is needed to solve problems quickly. Then again, that might just be because they're smarter. Like, I definitely didn't need 8 fillings, stupid dentist profit-driven assholes.

I'm learning a lot this summer. :)
Except for MCAT stuff...
I'm out.

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