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On January 14, Robin Roberts (host of Good Morning America) made a scheduled announcement about her health status. She's been away on medical leave since August 2012 because of a rare bone marrow disease. With all the brouhaha on January 13 to entice viewers to tune in and learn what the news would be, in addition to the smiles on every face that pronounced the upcoming announcement, it was a foregone conclusion that it involved something with regard to imminent return to work. And it was.

While the news about her return to work was celebratory for all, Robin talked about some of the expected and probably didn't realize she also disclosed unexpected information. Most people diagnosed with and treated for a major illness are put on some degree of disability and remain in that status for the rest of their lives. They become part of the 47% that Romney and Ryan spoke during the 2012 campaign who subsist on entitlements and expect a handout in order to survive in an economy with increasing inflation and little real money. There are few exceptions where there is a discussion about return to work; there are fewer about accommodations in order to make that a possibility.

Robin talked about the partnership of her doctors and care providers had with regard to formulating a plan for how she will transition from being ill to gradually working her way back to the studio and full time work. She outlined [continue reading]

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Reading these observations and having just learned the Pentagon has just lifted its ban on women in combat jobs, I'm forced to think back on the history of the passed century.

In the Second World War, soldiers suffering from PTSD were called cowards. It took three more wars and nearly fifty years, but PTSD is (at least within the medical mainstream) seen as a very real disorder that has nothing to do with bravery or cowardice.

People can change. New paradigms can be created and old paradigms can fall to the wayside. However, even if old dogs can be taught new tricks, it takes time and a great deal of effort.

Paradigms have a tendency to blind people to the things they have never experienced. Paradigms have a tendency to force people down a narrow path of the familiar and comfortable. Those who are not blind will never truly understand blindness. Those who are not deaf, likewise, will never truly understand deafness. And those who have never suffered non-visible diseases tend to have, at best, a limited understanding of them.

I think it's time for healthcare professionals to step outside the paradigms in which they've lived and begin seeing, understanding, and acknowledging the needs of the people they serve rather than simply following the outlines they memorized during their initial educational processes.

There needs to be a lot more conversation about non-visible impairments. Some are reckless and wild. They believe they can stomp through Life doing whatever they please, and with impunity, harming many who cross their path. Their cavalier attitudes doesn't take heed of the fact that they at some point in time must atone for the wrongs that they committed.

My hope and desire is that more will become aware of the fact that non-visible disabilities really do exist and they need to be mindful of how they conduct the business of the day. Just as with an amputee or a soldier suffering from PTSD, we owe our fellow human the duty of reasonable care. In order to have a fully employed society, we need to discuss return to work, accommodations to do so, or changes in strategy so that people don't fall into that trap door of government subsidies.

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