CMSA Today - Issue 6, 2015 - (Page 10)

A Case Manager's Journey Post-Traumatic Growth: The Journey Finding Positivity in the Healing Process BY TiNA KowLSEN, RN, BS, MBA, CCM M any case managers deal with patients who have experienced some type of traumatic experience when coping with catastrophic and chronic injuries and illnesses. Many case managers have dealt with their own traumatic experiences of loss and suffering as well, whether it is a loss of a loved one from a heart attack, child or spouse who has dealt with a long battle of cancer, or a lifetime rehabilitating from a motor vehicle accident. What occurs throughout the course of dealing with loss, suffering, and recovery is a healing process. For some, that process is short, and for others, more difficult, as everyone deals with traumatic worked with them know that although many persons can be resilient or can bounce back quickly in the face of trauma, negative reactions are common and pervasive."2, 3 ■ situations differently and heals in their own way and time. However the journey looks when faced with traumatic situations, many individuals are able to find something positive in their healing process. Post-traumatic growth is the journey. What is post-traumatic growth? It is how people grow through traumatic events from what they experience, feel, and function while moving on in life.1 They are the survivors of trauma, and the many people who experience positive change and transformation from their struggles with traumatic events. "People who have personal experience with traumatic events and clinicians who have Tina Kowlsen, RN, BS, MBA, CCM, is a care manager at Aetna in the Aetna In Touch Care Program, a national case management/disease management program. Tina is a past founding member of CMSA and recently completed her term on the National Board of Directors for CMSA. girlfriend, or anything... but alone. I was slowly dying of a broken heart and did not know I had stopped "feeling." I met an old friend who made me realize I was not feeling anything, which was frightening. Over time, I started to slowly find my way, putting together a memorial scholarship at our local high school for young football players in honor of my late husband, given the fact that we never had children. I like to call them Mike's Boys. I closed our business down and took several years off to heal; I started painting and playing the piano, which I had not done since I was very young - maybe eight or nine years old. Eventually, I decided to return to work and slowly found my passion for case management as part of my healing and the journey. I also started to reach out to friends and colleagues in the case management industry. I started working in the industry again in several different roles and positions, and also completed my MBA in health care. My family and friends, old and new, have been there for me encouraging me along the journey. I have always been grateful for my family and my faith to help me through the healing and the journey. In addition, I am grateful to be a nurse, a case manager, and a part of a new profession and industry that helps others who suffer losses and experience traumas. Not too long ago, a dear friend said to me, "Post-traumatic growth: Go Google it as that is you, a survivor of trauma." The author Stephen Joseph, as part of the title of his book, said, "What doesn't kill us makes us strong."1 My life has transformed over the last 12 and a half years, and my role as a nurse case manager allows me to help others as their lives, too, transform as survivors of trauma. ThiS iS My STory... It started as a young girl when I lost my father at the age of 10 when my parents went through a very difficult divorce. Later, I fell in love at a very young age of 16 with my high school sweetheart, married him after graduating from nursing school, and had nearly 25 years of a happy marriage together. After almost 30 years together of dating and marriage - building a life, business, and world together - it all changed one afternoon when he died abruptly of a massive heart attack. At the young age of 45, in our place of business and just after returning from lunch together, my life as I knew it changed in an instant. I have spent the last 12 and a half years on a journey of healing and finding my way in life. Shortly after he passed away, I retreated to our home town, where I felt safe and at home again, but lost. I was no longer a wife, a rEfErEnCEs 1. J oseph, Stephen, Ph.D. (2011). What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Strong: The New Psychology of Post-Traumatic Growth. Published 2011, Basic Books, A member of the Perseus Books Group. 2. Bonanno, GA (2004). Loss, Trauma, And Human Resilience: Have We Underestimated the Human Capacity to Thrive After Extremely Aversive Events. Retrieved from Accessed 7/7/2015. 3. Keane, Marshall, Taft (2006). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Etiology, Epidemiology, and Treatment Outcome. Retrieved from Accessed 7/7/2015. 10 CMSA TODAY Issue 6 * 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CMSA Today - Issue 6, 2015

Post-Traumatic Growth: The Journey
Optimal Healing Environments in Home Hospice and Palliative Care
Successful Patient Engagement in an Employer-Based Wellness Program

CMSA Today - Issue 6, 2015