Monday, April 20, 2015

#HealtheVoices15 My Takeaway

My conference HealtheVoices15 ended on a wonderful note but before I tell you about it, I want to thank @JanssenUS, Everyday Health, Caroline Pavis of Janssen and everyone else involved. You all gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn great things, to make new connections and to possess amazing tools to help me be a better blogger and advocate and most importantly a better person. Admittedly I am a bit tired from the busy days and nights but every minute was worth it to be able to come back home to my happy home, to Thomas, and to my work here back at my trusty computer.

Yesterday ended with a breakfast and wrap up that was quite a bit of fun. For now, I'll leave out some of my more personal good news to share about what yesterday was like and what the other days were like.

Breakfast was buffet style and Janssen made an effort to account for everyone's food preferences. Many people there had allergies and illnesses that made it impossible to eat meat or to have gluten in their diet among other things so food was organic and fresh. Janssen not only made breakfast delicious but they made the morning fun by providing a caricature artist (I'll post my picture later--it's pretty hilarious) and we got a chance to write on a massive decal stuck to a floor to ceiling window overlooking NYC in the shape of the HealtheVoices logo about what we took away from the conference. It was pretty fun. Then they had a massive piece of white paper where 3 video cameras were trained on it as another caricature artist drew my picture (as well as others from the conference) and wrote down my impressions of the conference and my mission with my blog. The premise of this whole thing is that they are going to put the creation of the board into a time lapse movie to be shown at some point and hopefully I'll be able to share it here when it's done. Both projects are beautifully done and will wrap up the conference in a fun way.

I was also interviewed in a televised question and answer session about my feelings about the conference and what I learned. One thing I definitely am NOT is a television "personality." I stumbled my way through the interview and I'm not sure how much usable footage they'll get from me. LOL

Saturday, though, was THE DAY. It was THE DAY to learn, to grow, to be educated, to be enlightened, to make friends and to network. They provided us with many speakers from many areas of interest like Compassion Fatigue (one of my favorites) taught by Dr. Brian Koffman and Kerri Sparling. Compassion Fatigue is the fatigue we feel as bloggers when we reach the point where we are exhausted from writing our blog and trying our very hardest to help our members cope with the various issues they bring to us. They taught us how to manage our own stress levels in the face of feeling helpless when it come to helping others and they provided great tools to be better advocates and compassionate blog owners. Much of what was taught there is also useful for all of you as caregivers and they gave tips that I will share with you over the coming days. I couldn't take notes fast enough so I took pictures of all of the slides and once I get those transcribed to writing I will share them with you.

They also had speaker ZDoggMD who I talked about in an earlier post. I said it already but for those of you who missed it, this guy is AMAZING! Not only is he a fantastic, dynamic speaker but his message was one of hope for all of us looking for good healthcare out here in the wilds. He satirizes the realities of healthcare on his YouTube channel (search ZDoggMD there) that has reached over a million hits. If you have the time you should go and watch some of his stuff. He's pretty spot on with his interpretations and he puts virtually everything to the popular songs of our day. I am forever a fan of his and encourage all of you to check him out in your spare time.
Then, for me as a blogger where the business side of blogging goes, we were taught by Tim Cigelske--Social Media Director and adjunct professor at Marquette University--how to read our analytics. Analytics are the statistics that Facebook and Twitter (among other platforms) provide us with to show us who our audience is, what our reach is, and various other little bits of useful information. This class was a little bit heartbreaking for me in a way because my analytics fall short in a few ways because while I have a lot of members on my page, the vast majority of you don't 'like', comment or share mostly for the reasons--as I understand it--that you don't want your family, friends, and loved ones with schizophrenia to see your activity on my page. In another class I was given some ideas to remedy that situation but they are projects that will take some time to come to fruition. I want to give EVERYONE HERE a voice and making that possible is a project that will take some time but I have great hope for the possibilities I have come up with.

The other business side covered was a legal discussion by legal and social media guru and super lawyer Jimmy Nguyen. He taught me a great deal about what I am doing RIGHT with my blog and what things I need to change for the sake of protecting myself legally. Some of my content (the use of pictures absconded from other areas of the internet for example) walks a fine line between "fair use" and outright "thievery". I'm not in danger of being sued for the most part but chances are there if I don't get my act together and do things by the book. I did learn, though, that generally I am okay doing what I do because my page is not commercial, isn't selling anything and what I write is my opinion and doesn't slander anyone in any way. My personal treatment of Thomas, of you as my members who allow me to share your stories and my keeping Thomas's doctors anonymous all protect me from any legal issues. All of that makes me very happy.

There were many others classes but those were the ones that I took something from and can apply to my page, my blog, and my website.

On the other side of all of this were the connections I made with bloggers from a comprehensive collection of healthcare issues. Through networking I learned a great deal about blogging, how to be more creative, how to engage my audience and how to be a better person. I will share via Twitter the people I most connected with and once I do that, their names will show up here in a separate post. If you're a Twitter fan, when you see that post, check out these people and their blogs. Some of them are amazing.

To conclude this post, I will say again what I have said before. JanssenUS provided a great resource for online healthcare bloggers, advocates and organizations. There is talk of them doing this all again next year and you can be sure I'll try to get myself in line to be chosen to go again. #HealtheVoices15 was the first conference of its kind and they want to make it a regular thing and hopefully include even more people from the online healthcare community.

Not to be lost under all of this is my boy, my kiddo, my Thomas. My plane got in late (after 10, after Thomas's usual bedtime) and when I walked in the door my beautiful, strong, amazing, loving young man was waiting right there to give me a hug. Needless to say, I grabbed him and HELD ON TIGHT. He fared rather well this time while I was gone and I credit, first, his great strength and tenacity but I also have to credit my mom, and Dan who both did their best to help Thomas through the time that I was gone. Also not to be lost under all of this was the much needed session with Dr. K. where he met my mom, provided her with all of his contact numbers (including his cell which I'm not sure he's ever personally given it to ME) and he spent time alone with Thomas helping him work out coping skills for while I was gone. Thomas's team was stellar this time around and I can't thank them all enough for keeping my boy stable while I was away.

(Janssen Global Services paid for my travel expenses for the conference. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.)

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