Hell-o, Doctor?

“Your warmth has more healing power upon the patient than all the medical tools in the world.” 

Abhijit Naskar, Time to Save Medicine

I had my “Welcome to Medicare” physical today.

This was my second physical with “my personal care provider.”

I have no doubts he is a good doctor. I am having doubts whether he is the right fit for me.

I think I’ve figured out why finding “the one” is so difficult for me. It is not unlike dating–in the dating world and in the seeking a physician world, both parties have expectations of what they expect from each other.

To clarify, I come from a long healthcare career. For most of my so-called adult life, my physicians were people I knew from working with them. They knew me not only as a fellow healthcare worker but as a person. Many knew my family–which was not always a plus. When I had an appointment with them, they listened to my concerns and knew I had some knowledge to contribute on how things progressed from there. We talked. We had eye contact. We questioned back and forth as we planned together.

Retirement changed that. We moved to a new state and entered the world of the self-insured. It has been a rough road with not many good advisers out there.  I’ve learned what it’s like to be on the other side of healthcare. It is not a comfortable place to be nor is the forecast for the immediate future favorable.

Today I sat beside my physician, telling him about my latest symptoms while reviewing my list of questions, yearning for the eye contact confirming he actually heard my concerns. As I spoke, I watched, leaving little breaks in my dissertation, hoping that’d encourage some type of acknowledgement. Not the case. My silence seemed to give him the opportunity to progress through his forms more quickly. I wondered if he’d noticed I’d stopped talking. I don’t think so. My pauses did give me time to realized most of what I’d shared with him only brushed the surface of my real concerns. Sadly, this made me aware he was completely unaware of how uneasy I was entering this phase of my life. I’d filled out all the forms and answered all the questions honestly… I had not been depressed. My energy level was good. I did exercise. My home was safe. Okay–yes, I still had my daily glass or two of wine…As he checked off his boxes in his history taking form, I realized I was not going to get the level of empathetic care I’d hoped.

This was and is so sad to me.

At a time when we “seniors” most need a healthcare provider to care for us physically, mentally, and emotionally, most of those needs do not have a corresponding box on any of those review of systems pages.

Did I get good care today?

It’s all still pretty new to me. I think I received the level of care that is standard practice today. Does that make it good care? I guess that depends on how you define that good care.

I don’t think all the government and insurance companies rules and regulations have made anything better or safer. I guess that probably wasn’t the real reason anyway. What it did do was create a badly engineered money-making machine that continues to wobble on in spite of itself. No one knows how to fix it so we all, physician and patient, do our best to adapt in order to survive.

“THE MAXIMS OF MEDICINE 

Before you examine the body of a patient,

Be patient to learn his story.

For once you learn his story,

You will also come to know

His body.

Before you diagnose any sickness,

Make sure there is no sickness in the mind or heart.

For the emotions in a man’s moon or sun,

Can point to the sickness in

Any one of his other parts.

Before you treat a man with a condition,

Know that not all cures can heal all people.

For the chemistry that works on one patient,

May not work for the next,

Because even medicine has its own

Conditions.

Before asserting a prognosis on any patient,

Always be objective and never subjective.

For telling a man that he will win the treasure of life,

But then later discovering that he will lose,

Will harm him more than by telling him

That he may lose,

But then he wins.

THE MAXIMS OF MEDICINE by Suzy Kassem” 

Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Compassion

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” 

Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

When my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer in January of 2007, my life went into a tailspin. I was a thousand miles away and my workplace was busy. This was going to be difficult.

I  remember telling my office manager I was leaving and heading to Iowa. As I sobbed, I told her I didn’t know when I’d be back but I’d call when I had more information.

For four months (much longer, really) my work family protected me–giving me the space I needed to do whatever it was I needed to do.  No one questioned me. No one grew impatient with me as I took phone calls from family and chased down physicians as my sister’s condition deteriorated. At home my husband made sure we had whatever we needed in order to travel at a moment’s notice–not an easy feat when you are traveling to Iowa in February and March and the wind chill is somewhere around -20. Our friends did what they could to make all things easier–one rapid trip home was made possible because I was given a buddy pass for a direct flight to Des Moines. Our family and friends in Iowa were always close by supporting and visiting Beth when we could not be there while helping us all as we struggled along, attempting to understand.

Cancer is a brutal and aggressive in its battles. We understood the cards were stacked against us. Beth fought hard. Mid-May she told me she was ready to be done–she was tired–we headed to Iowa to be with her.

I am grateful for all who helped us all during that time. I never could have done what I did without so much support from every single person who stood beside me and my family. As I look back over those days I don’t think I’ve ever taken an inventory of all those amazing gifts of love and time. I am thankful. I love you all.

“From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow-men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” 

Albert Einstein

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you.

~Peace~

 

 

Sharing

I have been sitting at my desk for sometime trying to corral my whirling thoughts. There is so much running through my mind it is hard to pull it all together into something I can share today.

A couple of things keep repeating themselves. I am discovering that writing is a very positive, healing experience for me. What I need to stress is that I am not writing to elicit sympathy. I am writing to share my experiences with those who may be dealing with some of the same issues–either in their lives now or in their past. I believe we are here to share the lessons we’ve learned. By sharing, two things will happen: I will be able to move on and readers will learn from me, hopefully saving them some time and heartache.

While researching quotes about grief, I came across a paragraph written by Miriam Toews. Finding this was like having that chance encounter at the grocery store when you run into an old friend–that friend who knows exactly what you need to hear as she greets and hugs you warmly.

Writing helps me create order out of chaos and make sense of things. It helps me to understand what I’ve experienced, what I’ve felt and seen, so it becomes easier to handle. On the other hand, I don’t want it to be just a cathartic experience, an outpouring of grief or whatever it is. 

My mind had turned to grief because of the newest terror attacks in Great Britain. Even the words of that sentence strike me as wrong. How could I be talking about an attack that killed many people with the descriptive word, ‘newest?’  We live in a world where tragedy seems to be a daily breaking news event. This morning I realized that terror attacks are becoming so common I am no longer shocked. For me, that thought stirred up a whole new level of grief. The memorial concert for the victims of the Manchester bombings had not yet happened when this new series–yes series–of attacks took place.

How can we find a way to understand any of this when these attacks, involving our brothers and sisters simply out living their lives, happen so quickly?

This quote attributed to Cheryl Strayed, gave me some comfort as it reinforced my belief that we are all in this together.

The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you’re talking about because she has experienced that thing too cannot be over estimated.

If there was ever a time for us to take that extra second for patience and kindness, it is now.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.

Peace