My Old Elevator Pitches on Delirium

I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my chronicle as expressed in my old blog posts. As the featured image shows, I used to have a blog I called The Practical Psychosomaticist, which I started back in 2010. It was mostly about how to diagnose, manage, and prevent delirium. One of them was about developing elevator pitches promoting delirium awareness. My blog post Elevator Pitch for a Delirium Prevention Project is below:

“Sir Winston Churchill: Be clear, be brief, be seated.

I have been told that I could improve my chances of selling my product of delirium prevention to various stakeholders by developing a good elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product or service and sell it. The idea is that you should be able to deliver the pitch in the time it takes to ride an elevator or about thirty seconds to two minutes.

I’m a doctor, not a salesman. But I’ll give it a shot.

Pitch to a staff nurse: I’m Dr. JA and I teach nurses how to assess, treat, and prevent delirium in hospitalized patients. Delirium is an acute confusional episode that mimics mental illness but is actually a medical emergency. Delirium worsens concentration, can lead to hallucinations, withdrawal, changes in appetite, reduced mobility, and sleep disturbance. When nurses have the skills and tools to prevent delirium, they ultimately do less work yet provide safer and more effective care for their patients, thereby promoting healing. Delirium leads to increased death rates, longer lengths of hospital stay, and persisting cognitive impairment. Nurses work harder to take care of them because confusion makes patients less cooperative, emotionally volatile, harder to communicate with, and sometimes even violent. Nurses want and need to know how to prevent delirium and I can help them do that.

Pitch to a potential funding source: I’m Dr. JA and I teach doctors and nurses how to assess, treat, and prevent delirium, an acute confusional disorder caused by multiple medical problems that mimics mental illness but is actually a medical emergency. They may be slow to respond, withdrawn, have attitude changes, and have mood symptoms. Because the risk for delirium is higher in the elderly, physicians and nurses in hospitals actually have to work harder to treat delirious patients with serious medical disorders. That’s because the patients are too cognitively impaired to cooperate with treatment, too disorganized to consent for them, and too agitated and restless to sit still for necessary tests. Doctors and nurses want and need to learn how to use assessment skills and tools to prevent delirium. This vital educational resource allows them to provide the best health care for older patients.

Pitch to Patient and Carers: I’m Dr. JA and I help doctors and nurses care for patients who may be at high risk for or who are in fact suffering from delirium. Delirium is an abrupt change in your mental state that represents a distinct change from your usual self and is often alarming to you and your loved ones. You can be disoriented, restless, hallucinate, have delusions and personality changes, or be very sleepy and seem depressed. Delirium is often temporary but can cause longer hospital stays, or the need for long-term care and raises the risk for falls and bed sores. Those at risk are over age 65, already have memory problems or dementia, have a broken hip, or several serious medical illnesses. We’ll assess regularly for changes in your emotions, behavior, or thinking and if they occur, we’ll use a special test to spot delirium early. We’ll work to prevent delirium by providing high-quality medical care. Occasionally, distress and behavioral changes could make patients a risk to themselves and if non-medication methods don’t reduce these, then a short course of medication called Haldol may be used.”

Well, all of the elevator pitches are way too long. But the message is still important.

New Elevator Pitch

I just made a new and much shorter elevator pitch video for my YouTube channel using green screen yesterday . I grabbed a free elevator clip from Pixabay to make the 20 second video. Getting my lines right took the longest time. See my Greenhorn Green Screen post from yesterday for instructions using Power Director software. Or use the software of your choice!

Elevator Pitch for a Very Slow Elevator

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post about elevator pitches. I’m using one of the standard formats below. The first step is to find a really slow elevator.

Who am I?

I’m a retired consultation psychiatrist, slowly evolving beyond that backwards in time to something else I’ve always been. I’ve been a writer since I was a child. My favorite place was the public library. I walked there from my house. I stayed there as long as I could. It was place of tall windows where I could look out and see trees which swayed like peaceful giants. I borrowed as many books as I could carry in my skinny arms and walked all the way back home. Then I picked up a pencil. I wrote short stories which I bound in construction paper. I read them to my mother, who always praised them and called me gifted whether I deserved it or not. I lived inside my head. My inner world was my whole world.

What problem am I trying to solve?

The problem was that I forgot who I was as I got older. I forgot for a long time about being a writer. I evolved into the outer world, adopting other forms. I put down the pencil, but never for very long. I changed what I did and made, but I always lived in my head. People told me “Get out of your head.” I tried, but didn’t know how. I wrote less and less. When I did write, I realized that I was no genius, not gifted—but still driven to write. I was so busy in college, medical school, residency, and in the practice of consultation psychiatry, I didn’t write for a long time. But later I returned to it as the main way to teach students. I even co-edited and published a book, Psychosomatic Medicine: An Introduction to Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, with my former department chair, Dr. Robert G. Robinson. On the Psychiatry Department web page, in the Books by Faculty section, the book is in the subsection “Classic.” Inside the cover of my personal copy is a loose page with the quote:

A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

Mark Twain

I’m pretty sure I put it there. Part of the preface was my idea because of my admiration for Will Strunk, who I learned about in an essay by E.B. White (“Will Strunk,” Essays of E.B White, New York, Harper Row, 1977). We informally called the work The Little Book of Psychosomatic Psychiatry:

The name comes from Will Strunk’s book, The Elements of Style, which was, as White says, “Will Strunk’s parvum opus, his attempt to cut the vast tangle of English rhetoric down to size and write its rules and principles on the head of a pin. Will himself hung the title “little” on his book and referred to it sardonically and with secret pride as “the little book,” always giving the word “little” a special twist, as though he were putting a spin on a ball.”

I guess our little book was, in a way, my own parvum opus.

Obviously, I don’t write the way Strunk would have wanted. But it’s my way, and I’m finding my way back to it, back to the path I was on in the beginning of my life, back to who I am.

What solution do I propose?

Almost two years ago, my solution to the challenge of rediscovering who I am, I suppose, was interrupting my medical career, but that would be dishonest. I did it because of my chronological age or least that was what I told myself. Burnout was the other reason. That said, despite my love of teaching students, I missed something else. And I knew if I kept working as a firefighter, which is what a general hospital consultation psychiatrist really is, I might lose what I loved best, which was writing for its own sake and for sharing it with others. It sounds so simple when I say it. Why has this been so hard, then? Obviously, I’m not going to recommend to those who are writers at heart lock themselves in a garret and do nothing but write. We would starve.

I think this is where mindfulness helped me. I couldn’t ignore my love of writing. I was better off just accepting it. But until I learned mindfulness in 2014 as a part of a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which I took mainly because I was struggling with burnout, I would either just ruminate or act on autopilot. I still do those things, just less often. Mindfulness is not miraculous. It’s not for everyone. It can be a part of transitioning to a healthier life. I exercise too. I don’t rigidly always without fail adhere to my schedule. I miss some days. I accept that and just go back and try again.

What is the benefit of my solution?

I think the benefit of adopting mindfulness and other healthy practices, at least for me, is that sooner or later (in my case much later), I made a sort of uneven peace with the loss of my professional routines, my professional identity, my work, as the single most important way to live. I still have a lot to learn, including how to be more patient, how to listen to others, how to get out of my head for what I know will be only a short time. Most of all, I’ve reintegrated writing into my life and it brings me joy. If you’re going through anything like that, then maybe seeing my struggle, my wins and losses, will help you keep going. It gets better.

This elevator pitch is way longer than 45 seconds.

Featured image picture credit Pixydotorg.

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