Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Ragan Communications’ Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications Conference at Disney World. I was overwhelmed by the wealth of information I gathered, the caliber of the speakers, and of course… the magic of Disney.
Speaker after speaker addressed the need to humanize your brand – to put a face on your company and give outsiders a behind-the-scenes view of your organization in order to create connection. So, rather than give you a simple recap of the conference, I’m going to attempt to humanize my company’s brand. Inspired by the honesty and raw beauty of this post, I give you my story – the story of a girl whose own health struggle led her to a fulfilling career in healthcare communication.
In high school, after a run-in with a nasty case of mono that landed me in the ER twice, I noticed a change. Playing my favorite sports seemed harder than it used to, the comfort of my bed was more attractive than an evening with friends, and I started to get sick. All. The. Time. For three years I went from doctor to doctor searching for answers, hoping and praying that someone could explain what was making me…. less me.
Maybe it’s my hormones. It could be MS. Are you pregnant? NO! Are you sure? Yes! Maybe it’s a brain tumor. Let’s do a sleep test. A few more (thousand) blood tests should tell us.
Time after time I waited in doctor’s offices with the faintest sense of hope that maybe this doctor would be the one to make it all better. Each doctor promising to do just that, but every single one returning with an, “I don’t know.” You’d think that news would be better than some terrible diagnosis, and I guess to some extent it was, but the not knowing was unbearable. I was a different person and I couldn’t explain why.
On top off the emotional journey I was experiencing inside, my physical journey through the healthcare system was arduous. What I found was a broken system full of doctors who didn’t share information, talk to each other, or have the skills necessary to effectively communicate with patients. I found long appointment lead times, hostile registration staff, and a general lack of empathy.
Eventually, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which Mayo Clinic defines as, “a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition.” Helpful, right? Basically it means that I am always functioning with less energy than those around me, even if I get 10 hours of sleep. CFS also results in a severely weakened immune system, so the common cold that most could fight off with some Vitamin C usually kicks my butt to the curb.
In my experience, I’ve found most people can’t empathize with CFS, and not even doctors really grasp it. You hear things like, “Okay so you’re tired, so what?” Or my personal favorite, “I have CFS too, it’s called motherhood.” And while I understand the point they are trying to make, all I hear is my subconscious screaming questions about whether or not I will even have enough energy to be a mom. Even writing this post is surfacing fears and insecurities that I’ll again be misunderstood or that my colleagues will somehow think I’m weaker and less hard-working than I was before.
Some of this misunderstanding could be remedied with a rebranding campaign of the disorder and a new name! The Institute of Medicine is considering changing the name to “systemic exertion intolerance disease,” which I think still makes me sound like a pansy, so I vote we go back to the drawing board on that one. But I digress….
Throughout the years I’ve learned to cope fairly well with the physical effects of CFS. But how I’ve healed my soul is where PadillaCRT comes in.
Working in the health practice at PadillaCRT has helped me realize my passion for healthcare and discover my purpose – to improve the healthcare experience for patients. Everything I do for my clients relates back to that fundamental mission. I am committed to making a difference by ensuring that other patients don’t feel as unimportant as I felt; that they feel supported and understood; that they experience empathy, and even love. And, realizing how my own purpose connects to my organization’s objectives has given me the motivation to get up in the morning (even when I’m exhausted)! Because, true magic occurs when you help your employees find and achieve their purpose.
At PadillaCRT, everything we do has purpose. We believe that purpose is powerful.
Impacting the connection of my health clients to their patients in a meaningful way is my purpose. What’s yours?