Saturday, March 31, 2012

Support Structure Engineering....

Structural engineering: a field of engineering dealing with the analysis and design of structures that support or resist loads.
From an engineering point of view are structures that support or resist loads are things like columns, beams, and arches.  They are the things that keep the bridge you are driving on from collapsing. It takes a lot of work of thought and a few mistakes to get the design of bridge perfected. Once it is built, we take the engineer’s hard work for granted every time we cross it.

Why am I talking about engineering? Because the columns, beams, and arches used as support structures in engineering can represent the support structures in all of our lives. 

Columns are like our family and friends; they support us by taking on some of our problems and putting it on their shoulders. They lend a hand or are just there when we need to talk. A loving family and close friends who are non-judgmental and willing to help with everyday things can make our lives easier. They are the ones who stay around months after a crisis is over. They are the ones who aren’t fair weather friends. They are the ones who are always there weathering the storm with you.

Beams are our community. The members of our churches, schools, and community centers all provide unique support for us. For patients who are homebound having access to a group of people to talk to and gain support through the internet is essential. They may not come into contact with people in their community on a daily basis so the interaction gained via social networking sites such as Facebook and Inspire can keep them from feeling alone in the world.

Arches are a good symbol for our medical professionals. Primary care physicians, gastroenterologists, surgeons, nurses, registered dieticians, pharmacists and other medical professionals play a specific role in our care. Each piece of the arch is important. They rely on one another to add their knowledge so that the best treatment can be provided for each individual patient. This is by far the hardest support structure to acquire. Communication between members can be like pulling teeth, and communication between their offices and our homes can be just as hard.

Just like actual structural engineering, developing a good support system takes time and effort. And just like a bridge, support systems require maintenance. Talk to members of your family and friends about what is going on, and what kind of help you need. Be honest with them about things. Open communication is the foundation you need for it to work.  If you are having a bad day, week, month, or quarter you have to let them know. A handful of family and friends who are willing to help you in the ways you need them too should be everyone’s goal.

Many of you are involved in our online support groups on Facebook, Inspire or the Yahoo! Group. We have a great group of patients, and caregivers willing to discuss just about every topic that may come to mind. If you can, try to develop a good relationship with your congregation or parent group. Having a community of people in your town is a great thing to have. They may not understand what life is like with DTP, but they care about you. If you have both groups to turn too, online and in your town, your life will be richer.

And ensuring you have a good medical team is essential. I’ll refer you back to a post I wrote in February about choosing your health team.

Let us know if you have any tips for developing a support system. What works? What doesn't work? You can leave a comment here or post them on Facebook.

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