My size 6 feet may be a lot smaller than my husband’s shoes, but I’ve been like an appendage to him since the onset of his illness, and I can safely say that I’m wearing his shoes through this journey.
Besides the fact that I am an empath – HSP personality , with a deep awareness of other people’s pain and emotions, I’m also somewhat of an investigative FBI, – not technically, but my husband often refers to me as one. It’s in my DNA to get to the bottom of the cause of every situation.
I’ve made it my business through the decades, facing illness, my own and family members’, to learn about diseases, pharmaceuticals, symptoms and cures, by reading numerous medical journals, subscriptions to health magazines, and years of discussions with my brilliant Naturopath. I have rapports with many doctors from past and present. I’m not afraid to share the things I understand with them and ask questions, and when it comes to my husband, as his advocate, I chase down doctors, get them to collaborate with one another by sharing what each of them deducted with other doctors on the case. I take him to every test, scan, and have been his full time nurse in hospital.
My knowledge, and respect for the medical care staff reward me with privileges I sometimes take liberties with, thus allowing me to follow my husband directly into procedure and operating rooms, until it’s time for them to do their job. I give them background information they may have overlooked, remind them of his allergies and medications, and kindly request that I can have a word with them after the procedure before having to wait for results.
Why do I do these things? Of course I do them to make sure my husband is getting the best care, but in today’s medical world, sometimes things can go awry.
With our health system declining from too many cutbacks, far away from what it once was, there’s a shortage of doctors, nurses and time. As a micro-manager, I like to do my best to keep on top of everything and try to get information as best I can. Backlog of patients waiting for tests, delays in receiving results, getting to some resolution of illness, can all take much longer than the ‘g-olden days’.
I’m writing this article to spread awareness. Yes, I’m also sharing some personal updates about my husband, but I feel that’s only fair to all of you readers and friends here who’ve been so supportive of me through this journey. But I’m also sharing the things I do to keep the proverbial ‘ball’ rolling in his case. These are things that some of you may not be aware of with your current health care systems, and blessed to not have to encounter them.
I see things all the time in the hospital. I observe. I see patients alone in their rooms with no visitors – sometimes all day. I see vacant halls sometimes with no nurse in sight. I hear patient’s buzzers going off and moaning for what can seem like an eternity to them before someone responds. I know when patients have been sitting in a soiled bed or diaper for a length of time because the stench through the hallways is a good indicator.
I was quite aware that I was the only one walking up and down the corridors, waiting to catch a doctor, after asking nurses approximately when he’ll visit our floor. I learned when the best times were to make requests and where to find the nurses when I had a concern. I learned how to ‘shop’ as my sister so kindly taught me while she stayed at my side.
The point I’m trying to make here is that when a loved one is ill, and/or elderly, and doesn’t understand legal jargon, and has nobody to advocate for them, they become one of many patients waiting for their turn, waiting to get fixed, waiting to go home. They are at the mercy of ‘time’ and if they know no better, just do as they’re told because that’s what they’re instructed to do, and they have no choice but to put their faith in what they’re told without questions.
- We need to speak up and ask questions. We need to ask about medications and their conflictions with other meds.
- We need to offer information about underlying issues that doctors may not be aware of because the patient forgot to mention or was unable to.
- We need to know what to expect during the healing process.
- And most of all we need to be there for compassion, support and encouragement.
I couldn’t turn off my brain on countless nights my husband was in hospital after feeling guilty leaving him late at night, knowing I had only a few short hours to sleep before getting up early to be back there by 630am. I worried he may not be able to reach the cup of water I left as close to the bed as I could without hampering his path to be able to get up with his I.V. pole and try to get to the bathroom. I worried that he may be stuck in a blood-soaked diaper for too long before someone could help him change. I worry about everything.
I know some of you may not be interested in reading long posts, nor be interested in all of the details of my husband’s illness. But for those of you who would like to follow the mystery of this journey and learn how I made my own deductions, kept on the doctors with insisting they do certain tests, and how I keep the ball rolling, you can click HERE to read more.
But for all of you, I’m making a list below of some of the methods I’ve learned to keep on top of my husband’s own medical situation, which you can take as pointers which may help you if you’re ever faced with an unfortunate illness yourself or with a loved one.
Continue reading “#Health #Caregiving – And working with the #Medical System”
I wasn’t going to put together another post for this week, as I already have my posts for the week scheduled in draft, but I’m sticking one more in because I feel compelled to say something.
I talk about kindness and the universe a lot. I also preach that without having our health, we have nothing, for nothing else can bring us joy while we’re busy fretting over serious illness.
I had to write this post in gratitude as a shout out to two wonderful doctors.
Many of you know my personality here, and how I am here, is how I am in my real life. I’m friendly, inquisitive, and make friends and form rapports quite easily because I respect people and have a way of forming instant bonds with people. This is no different when it comes to my relationships with mine and my husband’s doctors.
In today’s world, we all know that it can be difficult to get in to see a doctor at times. Wait times can drag on, and if we’re scared about something, the waiting can seem like an eternity; especially if you are out of country on the other side of the continent. And don’t even get me started with trying to get hold of a doctor to speak to them personally.
I know the US has their healthcare issues, and believe me, a lot has changed too with Canadian healthcare, not for the better. But there are still some
Saints doctors around who still have a bedside manner and compassion. And I am blessed to have two of them.
Without getting into great details of the Stage IV prostrate cancer my husband had a few years ago, and the grueling treatments he underwent to save his life, I’m always on guard for symptoms, and there have been a few residual issues from side-effects of the treatment through these past few years.
A few days ago, while we’re on vacation, my husband developed some questioning symptoms (which I won’t get into here). I’m pretty well versed in health and disease and cures, medically and naturopathically. His symptoms weren’t making a lot of sense to me and flagged an alert system in my brain from the things I do know. After googling my computer to death, knowing what he didn’t have, but miniscule possibilities of what he could have, I was quite concerned to the point where I felt we might have to go back home.
You may be wondering if we have out of country medical insurance, and the answer is yes, of course, but I’m pretty well versed too, at the way the insurance companies work. I’ve seen issues all too often in the news. If there’s one tiny thing they can find to pin an ailment on, they won’t cover insurance, and I know if I took him to a doctor here, they’d pin his symptoms back to his cancer 5 years ago and wouldn’t reimburse, so although feeling like I may be overstepping some privileges, I contacted 2 of our doctors back home, on Sunday.
Dr. Vesprini, oncologist at Sunnybrook Hospital is one of my husband’s doctors. We see him twice a year for testing to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned. Dr. V, as I call him, is a strappingly handsome young man with a great personality, and a man who doesn’t make you feel like you’re even in a hospital. We were there before we came to Arizona for hub’s semi-annual checkup, and there was a test result misplaced. He said, ‘Don’t worry Deb, I’m not going to make you come all the way back here. Here’s my personal email address, we’ll run that test again now, then email me Monday and I’ll email you back the results”. Wow, I was touched that he wasn’t going to put us out and make us come back so he could charge OHIP for another visit, or that I didn’t have to go through hoops with a secretary, not to mention that he felt comfortable giving me his personal email address.
Dr. Marsden (although we’re on a first name basis) became my naturopath almost 15 years ago. He basically saved my life a few times over. He’s a brilliant naturopath who studied in Germany and brings all the technology here. He has patients that come to his cancer clinic and health center from all over the world. I’ve watched him grow from his small practice, to an international superstar who travels many places now to lecture. But when it comes to looking after me and my husband it feels as though he’s our friend and always comes to the plate when I have a concern. So yes, I do have his cell phone personal number since 2006 when I had my open heart surgery for the tumor on my heart, and he was there for me through consults, listening to my fears, and for a speedy recovery process. He even came to our house to check on me. They just don’t make doctors like Dr. M anymore. I have never abused his number, never, ever used it.
But Sunday I was full of worry. I decided it was time to use my ‘get out of jail free cards’. I sent an email to Dr. Vesprini, with details of my observations on my husband’s symptoms. I didn’t have Dr. Marsden’s email with me, so I sent him a lengthy text explaining my concerns and minute details of the symptoms, and my apologies for bothering him.
Dr. V emailed me back first thing Monday morning, and we emailed back and forth, his diagnosis, and my questions. He verified what I thought it was, and although he’s 99.9% sure of what it is, he told me as long as it remains the same and doesn’t get worse, there is nothing to worry about, and to be sure, he will test my hub when we return home to make sure his diagnosis is correct. He reminded us to have a great time and not to worry and to let him know if anything worse happens, feel free to contact him.
Dr. M called me. He told me exactly what Dr. V had said, put our worries to rest, and said these effects are common even years after radiation, and as long as it remains like this, there’s no reason to worry, although he wants hub to have the same test Dr. V requested when we get home. He invited me to call him anytime if there’s a concern, but I would never abuse the privilege unless I found myself up against a brick wall. He also cautioned what to keep an eye out for and if anything gets worse, he advised we come home.
Now, I had surmised from my knowledge and investigations what the problem could be, but I knew I had to consult with a doctor for verification and peace of mind. I’m not one to ever let suspicious symptoms linger. Everything seems fine for the time being; symptoms are lessening, and I am on watchful duty should things escalate. But I can’t stop thinking about how blessed I am to have these rapports with 2 wonderful human beings who just happen to be doctors.
Thank you for your kindness, concern and compassion Dr. Vesprini and Dr. Marsden. The world could use more doctors like you.