What a privilege I could sail with Heroes4Life for a week as a doctor, with no less than 23 chronically or seriously ill youngsters. I went into it open-mindedly and came out as a different person.
The first few days I tried as a responsible doctor to link the faces to their syndromes as quickly as possible, but that quickly turned out to be the big beginner's mistake. It was nice to know something about someone's background, but soon I learned that something bigger was going on here; to lose that disease and to live a 'normal' life. We viewed each other as people, not as disorders. I decided to leave the list on the left and listen to the young people.
And indeed, what an ordinary group it really was! Restrictions did not exist until the contrary was proven. So someone was also able to lift his legs, a wheelchair covered the table (actually handy, 10 jars of jam on your lap!) And a blind person cleaned the toilets. Where we normally tend to spare someone because of his handicap, it turned out to be one big misconception. Together it all worked out.
The mutual care for each other was also impressive. Where I thought I had to run a lot for everyone as a team member, more and more was done during the week. The blind boy pushed a wheelchair as he pointed out the way and described all that could be seen in the harbors.
In the GP practice you have 10min per patient. I now see that I am actually missing 23 hours and 50 minutes of a patient's life. Here I got the chance to really get to know someone, and not only have to focus on the condition. What a relief. Because what can you mean a lot if you can sincerely pay attention to someone.
What I learned from this trip is that care is not just medical support. Care is so much more than that. It is listening, it is respect, but above all; enjoy together.
Sophie van der Voort