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Table of Contents
1 - A Note from Val - Get the Health Care You Need
2 - Featured Article - Do You Want to be Admitted?
3 - Wellness Tip - Stand up and Move around
A Note from Val - Get the Health Care You Need
I have to admit that it came as a shock when I witnessed my mother's experience in the emergency room last week. Sure I've heard my share of 'horror' stories, but like so many people, I didn't really take them to heart until it happened to us.
That scenario is what spurred me to 'drop everything' and begin this mini-series. I want you to know how to advocate for your medical care whether you are in the ER, hospital, or doctor's office so you can get the health care you need when you need it. This may be especially true if you are elderly, have a laundry list of health conditions already, or have yet to figure out what your less obvious health problem is.
One point I want to stress is that these articles are not about healthcare provider bashing. I'm well aware of the less than optimal conditions and restrictions medical providers have to work under. And it is an understatement to say that I deeply appreciate the care my family members and I have received over the years from these providers.
Unfortunately, I now know firsthand that this is not always the case. If you want a taste of just how common this is, and how people suffer for years waiting for a proper diagnosis and treatment, watch a few hours of Mystery Diagnosis. You'll get quite an education.
I also want to say up front that I am not a medical advocacy or patient empowerment expert. For those of you with expertise - please reply to this ezine with wise words to share in a future issue. It would be much appreciated.
Featured Article - Do You Want to Be Admitted?
Do you want to be admitted? Or do you want to go home?
These were the first words I heard the handsome young doctor utter at 130 AM after seven hours of sitting in the Emergency Room with my mother.
Her first doctor, who I found quite responsive and competent, left without notice when he ended his shift.
"Our tests show nothing wrong with you. You already have been evaluated here several times. At your age you have to work harder to stay in shape..."
This was the gist of the comments he made to my mother.
"No, you don't understand," I said. "Something is wrong. My mother is active. She cleans, shops, and is president of two clubs. She is weak because something is wrong. And she shouldn't be bleeding like this. I know she looks good laying in bed. Would you like to see what happens to her when she sits up?"
That "no" was the second no we heard that night. The first was when I asked the nurse if she would like to see how
much my mother was bleeding when she visited the toilet.
Are you kidding me? I thought to myself. Here's a woman who can't sit up without losing her breath, can't walk
down the hall without help, and bleeds excessively every time she sits on a toilet, and all you have to offer is that she is 'deconditioned', and you want to send her home?
And I can still see my mother's face brighten and say to the smiling Doctor God we just met, "Doctor, do you think I should go home?"
I composed my stunned and angering self long enough to say, "No, she's staying. Admit her."
It was obvious he had drawn a conclusion based on some tests, his limited knowledge of her health history, and her age. He had already made up his mind, and was not listening or interested in taking this case further.
To make a long story short, she stayed. Further testing revealed a serious heart issue on top of the heart problems we already knew she had. And the bleeding? After three days and repeated comments to the doctors and nurses, the head nurse took it upon herself to take a look. She was so appalled that she didn't wait for orders to give my mother more iron. She said there was no way she should go home until something was done about it.
What makes this even more mind boggling is that three months earlier, Mom was in the hospital for severe anemia because of a lacerated hemorrhoid. She needed four transfusions plus plasma and surgery - at that very hospital. But now, because her blood levels were holding, no one was concerned.
Why am I telling you this story?
I can only imagine that if my mom was like many people who visit hospitals alone that she very well would have been sent home to continue treadmilling through doctors over the next weeks or months as her condition declined. I can only shudder at what the outcome of that type of 'care' would have been. I want to spare you that.
I'm a firm believer in learning from life experience. And if we can learn from another's experience, so much the better. As the saying goes, "Forewarned is fore-armed".
The most important thing I want you to take to heart is that you need to be a strong advocate and empowered partner in your healthcare.
I highly recommend that if you need medical care that you bring a capable family member or friend with you. Another pair of caring eyes and ears and hands is a good thing. And research shows you are likely to get better care when family members are with you in the hospital.
As an advocate for yourself or another, it is important that you ask a lot of questions and provide complete information. Don't leave any details out, even if they seem minor. Remember the holistic truism: everything is connected.
It is also important that you make sure you are being heard and listened to. Repeat yourself if necessary. Insist they look further or refer you to a specialist if nothing obvious shows up on the tests they did right then.
Don't let your symptoms be trivialized. No one knows your body better than you do. You, and your family members, are the experts on what is normal for you and what isn't. Trust yourself and your intuition. Demand the help you need and don't settle until you get it.
- Please don't be stoic and put off getting help when you need it, especially if your loved ones see something is wrong. Both times my mom waited way too long to go to the hospital. It was not helping her to hopscotch from doctor to doctor for her monthy visits as she got weaker and weaker. (That's another discussion.) It took a visit first from my older sister, and then me to get her to the hospital. Both times were serious. Don't do that.
Are you finding this information valuable? Let me know - and forward your ezine to your friends and loved ones.
Wellness Tip - Stand Up and Move Around
Are you sitting down? Stand up and move around. Yes, right now!
Researchers tell us that standing up regularly during the day can improve your health and lengthen your life. Sitting too long has a negative effect on glucose tolerance and blood lipids.
Your body is meant to move - it's the old move it or lose it. You'll burn more calories, perk up your mind, activate your muscles and keep the fat moving instead of accumulating around your organs.
How much is enough? Stand up and move around for a few minutes at least once every hour. Make it a habit.
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Until next time,
Wishing you happiness, healing, and wellness by design.
Until next time,
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