Teachable Moments May Change Perspectives

Cazandra Campos-MacDonald avatar

by Cazandra Campos-MacDonald |

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I went to college to become a teacher. Actually, to become a middle school band director. Four years of college were great, but student teaching was how I learned to teach. Two excellent supervisory teachers helped me find my way, answered questions, and taught me useful lessons by their example.

Many professions have a similar practice. Real-life experience is critical for students to become the best they can be in their chosen careers.

When my youngest son, Caeleb, 16, was in and out of the hospital years ago, numerous residents cared for my son. Caeleb’s case was unique due to inhibitor complications. The hematology team always came to the hospital room with a group of residents, who eagerly listened and took notes. I always welcome residents and students because on-the-job training is priceless. Dr. B appreciated when Caeleb was inpatient because she knew I would engage with her students when I was in the room.

These doctors-in-training would ask questions about Caeleb’s care. How does hemophilia affect his daily life? Is there a history of hemophilia in the family? The disorder’s complications take on new meaning after seeing a swollen joint in person.

Many don’t understand that residents don’t spend a long time studying bleeding disorders. As a result, hemophilia is a mere blip on the radar for many physicians learning about the numerous illnesses that need treatment. My goal is to make an impression on students so that they remember Caeleb’s case if they ever treat a person with hemophilia.

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Teaching Young Adults About Hemophilia Is a Never-ending Process

When I recently took Caeleb to the emergency room, a paramedic-in-training came to the room and asked if he could evaluate Caeleb. I invited him in and had Caeleb answer his questions.

I helped Caeleb engage with the student paramedic because this was a perfect opportunity to spread awareness. After the student completed the exam, I asked him some questions.

What is the most commonly misdiagnosed bleeding disorder that affects men and women? Von Willebrand disease. Do women have hemophilia? Yes. He looked a bit stunned as I explained the reason for my questions. I wanted to make this one person aware of rare bleeding disorders.

If this student paramedic encounters a person with bleeding issues, perhaps he will remember our conversation. Now, one more person in the world has a real-life connection to someone with a bleeding disorder. Maybe it will save someone’s life.

Many years ago, in one of the most renowned medical centers in the country, a physician asked me about hemophilia. “You are the expert,” he said. I walked away from that hospital in Houston amazed that a physician admitted that he needed to learn from the mom of a boy with hemophilia.

There were also numerous instances when residents acted like the experts. Unfortunately, it never ended well for them when I was in the room. Sometimes I said nothing; other times, I had to correct their inaccuracies.

As people living with and raising children with rare disorders, our responsibility is to advocate for them. The remarkable part of advocacy is that when we speak up for our loved ones, we are not only helping our family. We are also changing others’ views of what it means to live with a bleeding disorder.

Everyone wins.

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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