Being told in no-uncertain terms to improve my listening skills during a prestigious organisation development programme was not exactly a high point of my career. However, deciding to join The Pituitary Foundation’s support helpline was definitely one of my more inspired moments. That was approximately 6 years ago and I’ve never looked back; personally or professionally.
No 3-hour shift is the same. Sometimes with a single 5-minute call and sometimes up to 10. Every call is different and every caller has their own special story. Some are patients wanting specific advice and guidance. Others are family members or carers, deeply concerned about the news of a diagnosis or prospect of surgery. Some need to talk and others can’t find the words. For all, there is someone who takes time to listen.
My own connection with The Pituitary Foundation goes back c. 20 years. My own patient journey has been uneventful compared to many; struggling with physical and lifestyle changes they have neither wanted nor chosen. Whilst I have the good fortune of full recovery, others have not. Pituitary conditions are rare, so misunderstanding and misdiagnosis are frequent topics. Those who say “talk is cheap” can count their blessings. For many, the value of being heard by someone who accepts them unconditionally is incalculable. I simply take time to listen.
Working away behind every Pituitary Foundation helpline volunteer are the dedicated team at our National Support office. Powered by the charity’s aims: they spend endless hours making sure that we are well prepared for every call. Specialists are consulted, statistics gathered, information prepared, and bulletins distributed. Even more so during the first weeks of the recent coronavirus outbreak, when updates were coming through daily.
Writing this piece for volunteers’ week, I’m taking the chance to celebrate the work of The Pituitary Foundation and say “thank you” for every opportunity to contribute. All it takes is time to listen.