EPISODE: Introduction

Support for this podcast series comes from the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users LeagueAIVL - an organisation formed to provide a national ‘voice’ for people who use illicit drugs, and in particular in relation to people who inject drugs. AIVL and its member organisations in each state and territory work to promote the health and rights of all people who use or have used drugs. The ID Crowd is a provider of custom digital learning solutions and has worked with AIVL and co to weave together these tales. With the support of Kim from Branded Podcasts, we conducted hours’ worth of interviews with the amazing people you will hear throughout this series.

For the general population, a trip to the doctor is nothing more than a blip on our radar. We might still have a family doctor, where we look forward to going to visit this childhood beacon of comfort and sugar free lollipops. The receptionist is most likely a familiar fixture, and while she has a tendency to gossip – it fills the time you have to wait – because despite making an appointment, you know your GP is already running at least 30 minutes behind. We check our watch to ensure we don’t need to put more money on the meter, peruse emails on our phones to ensure work is surviving without us and flip to the next page of a 2012 New Idea (Kate Middleton is hoping it’s a boy). That’s it really, that’s a pretty normal trip to the doctor, something that most could relate to. This is an average story of a normal visit to the GP, but looking around a waiting room – everyone has a different version of ‘normal’…

Finn : “Oh it depends on the day, there's no normal day. Fuck, I don't know. At the moment, a normal day is trying to motivate myself to get up and get out of the house and walk, and go get my dose.”

Christian : “I navigate my everyday existence based on the assumption that if those people knew me that has implications on my health, my safety, my security, moving into the future, my job, all of those things.”

Felicity : “Oh, I don't know. A normal day is stress and trying to reunite my family. I've got seven little hearts that love me. I feel worthless.”

Jude : “I get up in the ... probably about 6 o'clock. I wake up at 5:00. The older I get, the earlier I seem to wake up. Then I lie in bed and think, "Will I get up and do exercises for my leg," because I'm having a bit of mobility problems, and decide not to. Go back to sleep for a little while. Then I go to work. I usually have to go to the chemist and pick up my methadone…”

Who we are is not one single thing, rather a blend of many things – a different attribute may be more influential on a daily – on an hourly basis based on what is happening around us – we’re human, we’re complex. In this series, while focusing on something so seemingly simple as visiting the GP, we will be using research and interviews to explore real human stories, because we all have a multi-faceted story and no one element of our lives should define who we are and how we are treated by others. Our aim is to create a shared understanding of clinical interactions and how they are experienced by drug users and medical professionals alike. Hopefully, we’ve created a small window into the worlds of both drugs users and medical professionals with experience working with drug users. Our aim is to use this unique opportunity to hear real stories, supplemented by useful resources to support healthcare professionals to increase their skills and confidence in working with patients who use drugs.

This series isn’t about blame, nor is about pointing fingers, or grading performance – it is about building a shared understanding.

Take the time to listen to the stories, and make sure you check out the resources to help support a normal, uneventful, ordinary – trip to see the doctor.