How Working for a Medical Accessories Startup has made me more compassionate
While I am not chronically ill a bulk majority of my friends all suffer from some form of chronic illness. My best friend and Big, suffers from heart disease that requires frequent trips to the hospital. One of my mentors and CEO suffers from Chronic Lyme Disease and other co-infections. My father also passed away from pancreatic cancer.
Disease and sickness have always been the ‘norm’ in my life, so I never really took the time out of my day to step back and really examine the struggles faced by some of my closest friends and family. Here’s what I discovered.
There is a beautiful community called the “spoonie community” Our community manager Katie writes in a blog for Mighty Well, “If you’re unfamiliar with the spoonie community, think of it as Instagram’s community for people with chronic illness who constantly love and support each other through their invisible or visible struggles (If you want to learn more about the word “spoonie” I encourage you to look it up). We cheer each other on through hard times, like awful ER visits, and we’ll never judge you for crying or word-vomiting in an Instagram story because you just can’t take it anymore that day.”
She describes it to me as a community that has an unspoken commitment to love each other unconditionally, regardless of appearances, body types, and mental or physical disabilities.
Katie recalls her own experience when she was first diagnosed with Chronic Lyme and other co-infections. “Before I got sick, I used to think that if I didn’t document a picture of my friends and me at a party, it was like we were never really there. If I looked crappy in a picture, I wouldn’t post it at all. I even got to the point where my body image issues were so severe that I avoided having pictures taken of myself because I couldn’t even stand looking at myself in the mirror, let alone in a photo. But after joining the spoonie community, I have learned to be more comfortable with not only my appearance but also with my life in general.
Working for a startup, especially one like Mighty Well requires more levels of Emotional Intelligence, more so than I would argue for most consumer brand firms. When dealing with patients and people fighting for their lives, there is a fine line between pity and empathy, and while I will never be able to fully empathize with the pain that they experience each and every day, it is my goal to always try to be there and be understanding. From this experience, I’ve turned into a professional caregiver for my friends suffering, and vow to always be a Friend in the Fight.