“You really don’t understand something until it is in your own backyard.” When the grandmother of Paula Moore, St. Louis City County, had a stroke, she thought she understood what her grandmother was going through. However, it wasn’t until three years later, when Moore had an ischemic stroke, that she felt she could actually understand where her grandmother was, what she was going through, and how she dealt with her stroke. Following Moore’s stroke, at the recommendation of her health care team, she began rehabilitation at SSM Health Care in St. Louis. While at SSM, the director of social services recommended to Moore that she should contact the Eastern Regional Arthritis Center (RAC) to enroll in the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP).
Moore enrolled in CDSMP in the fall of 2012. As she participated in the program, she realized she was in an environment where others were experiencing the same or similar things that she had been experiencing following her stroke. One of the things Moore learned through the CDSMP was that the leaders of the program were not trying to make anyone feel guilty – “we’re all in it together”. The physical, emotional, and cognitive aspects that were covered within the CDSMP helped Moore with her development and recovery overall. She ended the class feeling like she was more aware of resources she could reach out to when needed. Prior to taking the program, Moore didn’t like to think of herself; she would instead think of others. Now, as a completer of CDSMP, Moore feels a greater desire to be more aware of her own needs. As she says now, “I choose to think about me”.
Taking this self-management course has helped Moore to look at illnesses differently. Many of us can relate to Moore’s feelings that she didn’t want to become a burden or a hindrance to her family following her diagnosis. Having been put in the position of experiencing pain, emotional stress, and physical stress associated with health problems firsthand, Moore can now look at individuals who have health problems differently and understand what they’re going through without treating them as if they are a burden. Looking back to her relationship with her grandmother following her grandmother’s stroke, Moore felt that once a similar problem to her grandmother’s was “in her own backyard,” she could understand how her grandmother felt. “Unless you’re sitting in it, you don’t know the depth of it,” says Moore.
The CDSMP is a group format course that is offered by trained leaders in six-week increments, meeting once per week for 2.5 hours. Participants are either persons with a long-term health condition (like asthma, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke) or a caregiver for an individual with chronic health problems. This program which was researched and designed by Stanford University and is now an evidence-based intervention, discusses techniques to deal with health problems associated with chronic conditions; appropriate exercise; appropriate use of medications; communicating effectively with family, friends and health professionals; nutrition and setting goals.
If you are interested in participating in a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program in eastern Missouri, or would like more information on the program, contact the Eastern Missouri Regional Arthritis Center coordinator, Duana Russell-Thomas, at 314-286-1625. To find a CDSMP class elsewhere in the state, call toll-free at 1-888-702-8818 or visit www.moarthritis.org/classes.html . Moore’s advice to individuals considering participating in a self-management program is to “try to get into a program if you can. You can give yourself something and feel a sense of community by participating.”