Health & Fitness:Medicine
Maija Haavisto: Medical Writer talks about Continuous Medical Trauma and MEcfs and Long Covid (aka post Covid syndrome)
Author and writer Maija Haavisto caught my attention with her article titled ‘Medical Trauma: Gaslighting and Continuous Stress Eating Away at Your Self Worth’. In her writing, Maija accurately captures the consequences of harmful medical experiences I witness in my counseling clients. As I’ve said elsewhere, medical error and trauma are the unacknowledged pandemics within our health care systems.
Maija grew up in Finland, a healthy child until she got the flu as a teenager and never recovered. Kicked out of an abusive home at 16 as she struggled with sickness, Maija relied on her writing prowess and carved out a successful career as a journalist and medical writer who has authored 17 books in Finnish.
Along the way, Maija’s health has fluctuated, she eventually got a diagnosis of MEcfs, moved to the Netherlands partly for healthcare reasons in 2010, but she has never been totally healthy again. Of course, having undiagnosed and unrecognized symptoms, and then getting a diagnosis of a medically marginalized disease, means Maija had to have numerous encounters with the health care system. Encounters that more often than not, would be stressful and trauma inducing.
But Maija has taken her lived experience with the chronic disease MEcfs, and her more recent experience with Long Covid (aka post Covid syndrome), and her encounters with the health care system, and uses those elements to inform her writing. Maija makes the point that medical trauma is different from post traumatic stress. As Maija writes in her article,
“Another aspect that makes medical trauma particularly pernicious is the way we may be forced to face our abuser and pretend nothing has happened. Even if we manage to cut them off, their pointed comments may stick in our medical files.”
And that’s exactly what distinguishes PTSD from continuous medical trauma. If you have a complex chronic illness, especially one that is medically marginalized, you probably cannot divorce yourself completely from the health care system to try to protect yourself from further abuse and trauma. You are forced to continue to engage with your traumatizer, both the physician and the health care system -- and that makes medical trauma continuous, and some would say, chronic trauma.
Connect with Maija Haavisto
Maija’s Medium article:
Maya’s CFS/ME book http://www.brokenmarionettebook.com
YouTube - hypnosis and meditation audios
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I am always looking for guests to share their medical error experiences so we help bring awareness and make patients safer.
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Like me, many of my clients at Remedies Counseling have experienced the often devastating effects of medical error.
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Email me to learn more or book an appointment: RemediesOnlineCounseling@gmail.com
Counsellor + Patient Advocate + (former) Triathlete
I am a counsellor, patient advocate, and - before I became sick and disabled - a passionate triathlete. Work hard. Train hard. Rest hard.
I have been living with HIV since 1998. I was the first person living with HIV to compete at the triathlon world championships.
Thanks to research and access to medications, HIV is not a problem in my life.
I have been living with ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) since 2012, and thanks in part to medical error, it is a big problem in my life.
Counseling / Research
I first became aware of the ubiquitousness of medical error during a decade of community based research working with the HIV Prevention Lab at Ryerson University, where I co-authored two research papers on a counseling intervention for people living with HIV, here and here.
Patient participants would often report varying degrees of medical neglect, error and harms as part of their counseling sessions.
I am co-founder of the ME patient advocacy non-profit Millions Missing Canada, and on the Executive Committee of the Interdisciplinary Canadian Collaborative Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Research Network.
I am also a patient advisor for Health Quality Ontario’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, and member of Patients for Patient Safety Canada.
Medical Error Interviews podcast and vidcast emerged to give voice to victims, witnesses and participants in this hidden epidemic so we can create change toward a safer health care system.
My golden retriever Gladys is a constant source of love and joy. I hope to be well enough again one day to race triathlons again. Or even shovel the snow off the sidewalk.
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