Monday, February 23, 2015

Why I finally signed up for Twitter - A physician's story

by Staci Mandrola, MD

I met Joe Rotella, the newly announced CMO of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, in the grocery store yesterday. We were both browsing the aisles, him for some crackers, me for some chicken broth. We stopped for a chat. He mentioned he just joined Twitter (@JRotellaAAHPM) and he’s following my husband John (@drjohnm) and me (@drstacim).

We talked about how Twitter is a whole new world for newbie 50-year-olds. How hard it is to type a URL into that little box and make it short rather than embarrassingly long. How no one cares what we think. What is a TweetDeck and how do I get one? What’s the difference between RT and MT?

John has been on Twitter for almost five years. He started with a postage stamp size following of less than one hundred people. He now has over 10,000 people that resonate with his message of common sense care for atrial fibrillation that includes a huge dose of Vitamin L (lifestyle), in addition to pharmacologic therapy and catheter ablation.

I’ve been on Twitter for 2 weeks and have my own postage stamp following. I have no illusions that the stamp will morph into a real country. It is a second full time job for John and he loves it. What I do hope is that it will lead to more virtual grocery store chats with really cool people who love palliative care.

This is a small sample of the people I’ve met in two weeks! Christian Sinclair (@ctsinclair) who is a tireless social media advocate for palliative care and editor of Pallimed blog. Nora Zamichow (@zamichow) who wrote about how her husband died of brain cancer and never heard the words “You are dying”. Lizzy Miles (@LizzyMiles_MSW) who taught me 10 things I need to do when I get diagnosed with a serious illness. Lyle Fettig (@lfettig) who taught me to examine my own feelings of blame when caring for a person with a devastating and unfair diagnosis. Laurie Becklund (@exlatimes) who died of metastatic breast cancer on February 8th and says:
Promise me, I told my friends and family, that you'll never say that I died after “fighting a courageous battle with breast cancer.” This tired, trite line dishonors the dead and the dying by suggesting that we, the victims, are responsible for our deaths or that the fight we were in was ever fair.
I could go on about all the good stuff on Twitter. Next week is our annual American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association meeting in Philadelphia. There will be thousands of the best, brightest, most committed, motivated, fearless palliative care people in the world at that meeting. And you are one of them! Join Twitter and join us at #HPM15 to get the word out about giving great care to people with serious illness.

You never know who you might chat with in the grocery store! Maybe the new CMO of AAHPM!

Staci Mandrola is a wife, mother, grandmother and palliative medicine physician who practices in Louisville, KY. Her husband John writes at Dr John M.

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