Letters to the editor

Scroll.in readers share stories of living with pain

Readers respond to the 'Invisible Pain' series in the Pulse section.

Silent fight

The article by Kanika Sharma on pain touched a chord with me. I have been afflicted with Fibromyalgia and chronic Myofascal pain for three decades now (“Pain is the silent epidemic that India’s health systems are failing to handle”).

My headaches started when I was barely 11. I could not share my pain with anyone at home as there was no perception about it in society in general. Even though it is very common for such patients to be told that “it is all in their head”, I did not have to face such a situation. Doctors I went to did not question my pain but were not able to diagnose it either.

When they did diagnose it, about a decade after my symptoms set in fully, it was not much help to me, as they did not know how to tackle the condition. When the pain is chronic – I have not had a day without pain in 30 years – one cannot depend on painkillers. Moreover, I am not supposed to take painkillers because I also have kidney-related issue. This seems like an unfair situation.

There were many psychological issues I had to deal with due to constant pain. Letting go of my job was the hardest, as I valued my economic independence more than anything else. Having a sick child added to my burden, when I was dealing with pain issues, that confused me a great deal. Moreover, before I had my diagnosis, I really used to doubt myself and my pain, wondering if it was all just in my imagination. So I would push myself far beyond my boundaries to deal with housework and my job despite chronic sleeplessness, chronic headaches, terrible fatigue, and a sick child. I had other issues of migraine, sinusitis and the worst – endometriosis (this painful condition for 20 years).

So, the article very validating for me and it struck a chord. I can go on writing, but the many, many adjustments and compromises I had to make, as a mother, eldest daughter and a wife. Giving up my job and with a husband with unstable income and no financial discipline only added to the psychological load of dealing with an invisible illness.

The feeling of guilt of not being able to do “enough” like all other women and with my healthy, hard working mother as an example put even more pressure on me. All this pressure did not help at all. –Anuradha

***

I started having migraines at the age of 18 (“No ordinary headache: ‘I wouldn’t even wish this upon my enemy’”). I would first have an aura — I would see flashing colours for about an hour. This would be followed by a severe migraine headache that would last for 12 hours and over 10 days. Alongside this, I also started suffering from vertigo.

Now, nine years later, I still suffer migraine attacks, especially in the summer, or before my period starts and if there is too much MSG in my food.

However, what I found is that taking contraceptive pills had exacerbated my headaches. My doctor told her that patients with migraine aura should not be take contraceptive pills as that can even lead to severe brain haemorrhage. – Devaki A

***

I congratulate the editor of Scroll.in and the team for the excellent articles on chronic pain. I would like to see more such articles coming out and reaching the public as there is an epidemic that the medical community and people fail to understand. Keep up the good work. – Dr Madhur Chadha

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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HBX is not only offering courses online, but also connecting students to the power of its network.

The classic design of the physical Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom was once a big innovation – precisely designed teaching amphitheaters laid out for every student to participate from his or her seat with a “pit” in the center of the room from which professors orchestrate discussions analyzing business cases like a symphony lead. When it came to designing the online experience of HBX—the school’s digital learning initiative—HBS faculty worked tirelessly to blend these tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of new technology. With real-world problem solving, active learning, and social learning as its foundation, HBX offers immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive online learning platform.

Reimagining digital education, breaking the virtual learning mold

Typically, online courses follow a one-way broadcast mode – lectures are video recorded and reading material is shared – and students learn alone and are individually tested. Moving away from the passive learning model, HBX has developed an online platform that leverages the HBS ‘case-based pedagogy’ and audio-visual and interaction tools to make learning engaging.

HBX courses are rarely taught through theory. Instead, students learn through real-world problem-solving. Students start by grappling with a business problem – with real world data and the complexity in which a business leader would have to make a decision – and learn the theory inductively. Thus even as mathematical theories are applied to business situations, students come away with a greater sense of clarity and perspective, whether it is reading a financial report, understanding why a brand’s approach to a random sample population study may or may not work, or how pricing works.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

“Learning about concepts through real-life cases was my favorite part of the program. The cases really helped transform abstract concepts into observable situations one could learn from. Furthermore, it really helped me understand how to identify situations in which I could use the tools that HBX equipped me with,” says Anindita Ravikumar, a past HBX participant. India’s premier B-school IIM-Ahmedabad has borrowed the very same pedagogy from Harvard. Learning in this manner is far more engaging, relatable, and memorable.

Most lessons start with a short 2-3 minute video of a manager talking about the business problem at hand. Students are then asked to respond on how they would handle the issue. Questions can be in the form of either a poll or reflections. Everyone’s answers are then visible to the ‘classroom’. In the words of Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX, “This turns out to be a really important distinction. The answers are being updated in real-time. You can see the distribution of answers, but you can also see what any other individual has answered, which means that you’re not anonymous.” Students have real profiles and get to know their ‘classmates’ and learn from each other.

HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort

Professor Anand also says, “We have what we call the three-minute rule. Roughly every three minutes, you are doing something different on the platform. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. Anyone could be called on to participate at any time. It’s a very lean forward mode of learning”. Students get ‘cold-called’ – a concept borrowed from the classroom – where every now and then individuals will be unexpectedly prompted to answer a question on the platform and their response will be shared with other members of the cohort. It keeps students engaged and encourages preparedness. While HBX courses are self-paced, participants are encouraged to get through a certain amount of content each week, which helps keep the cohort together and enables the social elements of the learning experience.

More than digital learning

The HBS campus experience is valued by alumni not just for the academic experience but also for the diverse network of peers they meet. HBX programs similarly encourage student interactions and opportunities for in-person networking. All HBXers who successfully complete their programs and are awarded a credential or certificate from HBX and Harvard Business School are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty and business executives, and also experience the HBS campus near Cambridge.

HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand

Programs offered today

HBX offers a range of programs that appeal to different audiences.

To help college students and recent graduates prepare for the business world, HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) integrates business essentials such as analytics, economics, and financial accounting. HBX CORe is also great for those interested in an MBA looking to strengthen their application and brush up their skills to be prepared for day one. For working professionals, HBX CORe and additional courses like Disruptive Strategy, Leading with Finance, and Negotiation Mastery, can help deepen understanding of essential business concepts in order to add value to their organizations and advance their careers.

Course durations range from 6 to 17 weeks depending on the program. All interested candidates must submit a free, 10-15 minute application that is reviewed by the HBX admissions team by the deadlines noted on the HBX website.

For more information, please review the HBX website.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HBX and not by the Scroll editorial team.