Sunday, 19 August 2012

I'm all heart - and it's beating!

On Friday I was hooked up to an ECG machine and being attended to by several paramedics.  It was an interesting day and there was nothing at all wrong with my heart.

I was playing a role and providing feedback about communication* to postgraduate paramedic students. The character I was playing was complaining of tightness in the chest, but didn't know the paramedics had been called.  It took a lot of convincing before I would let the paramedics attend to me.  Apparently this does happen.

This resistance was the hardest part of the role.  If I really had something wrong with my heart, you wouldn't need to convince me to do something about it.

During the first scenario with the first student, I had this sudden worry as he was taking my blood pressure and pulse - I hope he doesn't find anything wrong!  I may have been playing the role of someone else, but it was MY pulse, blood pressure and heart he was assessing!

I waited, a little nervously, for the results.

The last time I had my blood pressure taken it was a little on the high side and my doctor sent me for some investigations to rule out things like kidney problems before seeing if adjustments to lifestyle**could bring it down.  My blood pressure was very good.  (The bottom number was 70, last time it was 85.)  I was amazed and pleased.  Within the scenario when my blood pressure was being taken, I was highly agitated and very stressed, but this didn't show up in my blood pressure.  Yet another of the mysteries of acting.

Being hooked up to an ECG machine is a little freaky.  It's a fairly intimidating piece of equipment.  Suddenly you can see your heart rhythms and hear your heartbeat.  I was curious to know what all the different sensors were measuring, but didn't have the opportunity to find out.  The main thing is that my heart is great!  I thought my mini health checks were a great perk for this job.

Coming at the end of a week where I've been running workshops on empathy for undergraduate paramedic students (and other health care disciplines) it was really interesting to be in these encounters.  I've learned so much about paramedics.  As I approach another week of empathy workshops, having the context of my (fictional) encounters on Friday will surely enrich my facilitation.

DID YOU KNOW the machine which measures blood pressure is called a sphygmomanometer.  Try saying that five times, fast!

*The main communication issues came down to really simple things and are useful for everyone in all settings:
1. Use the name of the person you're talking to.  Many people ask for a name and then fail to use it.  Using a person's name creates intimacy and connection within the conversation, whatever its purpose or situation.
2. Don't use jargon.  It is alienating.  Listen for the words the other person uses and reflect their language.
3. Think about where you are positioned in relation to the person you're talking to. You can change the dynamics of the conversation by changing your "level" eg standing, sitting, stepping back.
4. Focus on the needs of the other person.  If someone is resisting doing what you need them to do, find out what matters to them and think about how doing what you need will actually help them meet their own needs.

** The main lifestyle factor that's different is actually my work.  I'm self employed now and while there are stresses, I feel that I'm living in a way that is more true to who I am.  I think this is the single biggest thing that has helped with my blood pressure.  (No medication required.)

There's still time to win a 2-for-1 pass to see The Sapphires.  Entries close today, Sunday 19 August.  There are still a few left!  Details on how to enter are here.

1 comment:

  1. Nice entry Tanya....FYI great Paramedic acting by ' Justin' on Brothers and Sisters current eps on Foxtel... gives the job a great profile!
    Great to hear things are going well,