Note From Jon & Burton: We are so excited to introduce a very special girl to people both online and offline. She’s currently in college, writes for her own blog (Kerri on the Prairies), participates with Asthma Canada along with helping kids in the special Olympics. I was fortunate to have her as a customer a couple years ago. Now I am so proud to say I have hired her to write some blogs using her unique voice, her health related education and her natural interest. I could not have found a better person (and Burton the blogging pup needs to go do dog stuff not blog stuff) so please enjoy, and let us both know your thoughts and feelings if you are ever so inclined.
– Now without further ado..
“It’s life changing—not life ending”
These are the six words that stuck with me in the final class lecture I received in a course that was also life-changing, taught by Jay Greenfeld, PhD. The discussion topic: chronic disease. Sometimes perspectives collide, and Jay is among those people who I’ve experienced perspective collisions with—living positively with a chronic disease thrown in for a bit of added chaos . . . and perspective.
My name is Kerri and I’m excited to be joining Jon and Burton’s team here at My Identity Doctor—I think Burton’s paws were probably getting tired from all that blogging! While I’m just a human and not quite as amazing as a blogging puppy, Jon and I figured it would be a good idea if I introduced myself!
I was diagnosed with asthma about a month before I turned seventeen—after two and a half months of misdiagnoses. My diagnosis and the ensuing difficulty getting my disease under control certainly changed my life—but after only a couple of years I was able to look back and realize that change was for the better. I’ve met a bunch of amazing friends I would not have made without this disease, had opportunities to travel, and beyond my lungs, I’ve changed inside, too—my thoughts and feelings towards chronic disease and my own perspective towards living with it has actually changed—yeah, any chronic disease sucks. But, it only sucks as much as you let it suck.
Through a string of changes that were both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated, I slowly began to change both my perspective on living with a chronic disease from negative to positive, and alter my lifestyle choices in response to that—I’m very far from perfect, but who really identifies with perfection, anyways? I switched my university major to Kinesiology and Applied Health (now likely a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education, though I have no intention to be a typical physical education teacher!). Encouraged by my classes in my first year of kinesiology, including Adapted Physical Activity and gaining exposure to some basic exercise science, I began exercising more frequently, and trying to balance that with the asthma symptoms I knew would come. Over a span of several years, my doctors and I finally got my disease under a moderate degree of control—for me, I find walking, dance, climbing and cycling activities that work well with my lungs, and running something that does not—it’s all about trial and error . . . and not giving up!
As my educational background is in a health-related field, I started seeing opportunities expanding in front of me. In 2009, I was asked to join the National Asthma Patient Alliance Executive Committee, a program run by the Asthma Society of Canada—Canada’s primary patient education and advocacy organization for asthma care—which has been an amazing experience knowing that I am doing something to help contribute positively to the lives and health outcomes of the three million Canadians who I share this disease with. I also had the opportunity to attend the Medicine-X Conference at Stanford University about self-tracking, social media and health as an ePatient Scholarship recipient in September 2012, which was a huge growing experience for me.
The biggest thing I have learned, though, is that while everybody’s experience living with a chronic disease is very different from one another—even those with the same disease—we all have the ability to change our thought process. Jay also said at some point during the term . . . “Change the way you think about things, change the way you feel about things.”—we may live with the unpredictability of chronic disease . . . but we are still in control. Through blogging here, I hope we can spark new ideas, form new connections, and help people realize that we are the only ones with the ability to change our health—body, mind and heart.
Kerri MacKay – “Catch my breath and go for it”