Star Jones

Star Jones
Have you met Miss Jones?


Healthcare...a matter of Life and Death

This has been a challenging couple of days for our family.

Over the past few months, my mom has been experiencing aches and pains that she and our family initially attributed to "old age." More recently, we started to notice how the pain began to really take its toll, compromise her quality of life and reducing her to almost being homebound. Although she has slowed down, this is a woman who takes cruises, dances with my father to "Me and Mrs. Jones" and can spend a sale day walking one of those long outlet malls only stopping to grab a bite to eat. Something was clearly wrong...

Mom is conscious of the changes in her body; but she is stubborn, so when she finally went to her regular doctor, he initially diagnosed her as having the onset of arthritis. A couple of months passed until the pain got to a point where she was reduced to walking with a cane and taking heavy duty pain medication just to get through the day. The phrase "pain management" became a part of her vocabulary and as you can imagine...this was not the answer we were looking for, nor was it an adequate diagnosis; and it didn't sit well with me and my family.

Our family, along with my mother's primary physician decided more extensive tests were necessary to find out the source of her pain. Last week, my mom had a MRI and on Friday, her primary physician referred her to an expert Orthopedic Surgeon to read the MRI which revealed that she had a serious problem with her spinal column. The prognosis was immediate spinal surgery or the eventual loss of her ability to walk.

Yesterday, she had top notch care before, during and after the surgery and it was a tremendous success! Her first question was when could she have something to eat followed immediately by "Did the girls (Venus & Serena) win their tennis matches?"

There are priorities!

I spent the night at the hospital with her, fully prepared to give everyone the full Shirley MacLaine, "give her something for the pain!" treatment; but alas it was not necessary...she slept through the night without incident and this morning we had grits, eggs and sausage together while she sat up without pain!

Today she is standing, sitting and giving orders...just the way we like her. Even though most people require several weeks of rehabilitation after such an extensive surgery, it looks like she is progressing so well, minimum rehab is all that will be necessary.

We are truly blessed.

Although this is personal "family business," I wanted to share all of this...because my mother's recovery is not due to celebrity or her affiliation with a daughter with "influence." I want to emphasize that without dedicated doctors, family advocates and adequate health insurance; my mother would be in a dire situation.

I know this is a debate that is raging throughout the country and I won't hesitate to give you my opinion: It is time for Universal Health Care for all!

Please take the time to find out more about the healthcare debate and your own healthcare situation should a major illness come to you or your family. In the meantime, if you find yourself of a family member facing a health are some things to remember:
  1. Be an advocate for your family member. If a hospital stay is necessary, set up a regular and consistent visiting schedule so that the doctors and nurses know that someone is there watching their every move.
  2. Ask questions and require adequate answers. When you go into your doctor's office, go with a prepared list of questions and require answers to each and every one. Do research on your symptoms beforehand so that you can anticipate the alternatives that will be presented.
  3. Don't take an initial diagnosis as "gospel" if it is not satisfactory. Remember, the doctor may be the expert; but you are the patient or the advocate (family member/friend) for the patient and if you aren't satisfied...go to anther doctor for another opinion.
  4. Please don't allow the prescription of medication to "mask" the actual cause of the illness. We as a country are relying on prescription drugs to solve far too many of our health concerns. Look for answers to your health care concern, rather than a way to just "feel better."
My mom is on the mind, so please be prayerful for our family...and for other families who face health challenges. Every family deserves this same access to health care...and this same blessed result.


  1. This blog is so necessary, my father recently suffered a stroke. Fortunately we had God on our side, as well as a physican that's also a family friend. He took charge and made sure that every possible test was administered...

    Everyone deserves the best possible healthcare. We need to take preventative measures and as you stated...ask ask and ask again until your concerns are adressed!

  2. You mom sounds very lucky to have a pro-active daughter with a voice on her side; (she sounds tough enough to handle her own, i'm sure, lol);
    But I agree, don't allow prescriptions to mask a potential serious matter; they almost did it to me; I fought for a resolution. So I applaud you for expressing it well on this blog. God bless you.

  3. hi star, i chanced to find myself here at your blog today and wanted to add my comments. i have the same situation going on with my mother whose arthritis these past few months has become so severe and debilitating that when we went to the doctor she immediately received a cortisone shot, with no explanation of what it was or any dangers associated with it, which i later after-the-fact understood to be effective as a 'quick fix' though it has some serious side effect issues. the doctor has suggested a knee replacement. my mom is 84. my best friends mother had the knee replacement surgery and unfortunately passed on three weeks later, due to heart and blood pressure complications. you can imagine my nervous reaction to the suggestion of surgery. a friend who is a nurse practitioner told me about a less invasive procedure involving an injection of a 'balloon' between the bone-on-bone effected area but it may not be applicable in my mothers case. if it is early enough and the exams reveal it would be a good alternative, i would suggest you have your mothers doctor look into it. we are looking into the possibilities now. it is hard to see my mother unable to walk as she has always been active, healthy and a daily walker. just wanted to share (vent) thanks for listening, best wishes to you and your mother.

  4. I pray for your mom's speedy recovery. Thank you for sharing her story. It's so easy to take the prescription and hope the pain will go away. Many times when it's misdiagnosed, the problem becomes worse and sometimes ignored until it's too late to do anything about it. I hope that people realize that we all deserve health care and voice their views with their Congressmen.

  5. Hi Star, I am so happy your Mom is doing well I wanted to comment on "things to remember". Earlier this summer, my sister, who has cerebral palsy was in the hospital after numerous bouts with vomitting and diarrhea. during this time, she was diagnosed as having gall stones. The next thing we knew, she was also diagnosed as having a huge fibroid in her uterus that would complicate the gall bladder surgery. When all was ssaid and odne, both surgeries were completed at the same time. We were vigilant by staying at the hospital, asking questions, etc. During my time there, I "took notes",: who came in, administered what medication, how long it took to respond to a call, etc. One nurse asked me, I noticed you are taking notes, who are you? When I said, her sister she said, oh. Needless to say they were hoping the rest of the time there. One thing we did have an issue with was "pain management". We had to stop the doctor from prescribing so much pain medicine. And people wonder how Michael, Anna Nicole and others get these drugs. They make you a "legal addict" by prescribing these drugs. The when people are no longer able to get the drugs because they are hooked, they began seekng them out illegally. I said all of that to say this, families, follow the "things to remember" to protect your loved ones.

  6. My Mom also had the same problem and continued to visit the doctor. Eventually I had enough with him telling her it was only arthritis and suggested that she see an Orthopedic Doctor. I knew that it was bone on bone friction but wanted to be sure that is was not bone cancer or an infection. The first thing out of this mans mouth was you need hip replacement surgery. You should have seen his attitude when he told her that. I sat in the X-ray waiting room when this man showed each and everyone of his patients their X-rays and robotically said that they needed hip-replacement surgeries. Not a shred of compassion at all, I call it assembly line medicine. I swear these doctors must have some kind of deal with the manufacturers of this apparatus solely by the number of surgeries that are performed on elderly men and women who never fully recover from this procedure.

  7. Great article! Thanks for sharing. My mother just turned 96 years old on the 22nd of August. It is a blessing to have her with us. I will pray for your mother's recovery.

  8. I agree that we need Healthcare for all Americans. I work at the number 1 cancer center in the world and I sense that they do not want healthcare reform. On more than one occassion, it has been mention that we still face many challenges including Healthcare reform. The same thing happened with mananged healthcare in the mid-90's. They believe the hospital would have to downside but it was just the reverse, they doubled the staff. We need to give this a chance, it is working in Canada and will work in the U.S. We must unite and don't entertain the scare tactics. If anyone has spent the night in an emergency room waiting on a doctor for over 10 hours, you should definitely support this bill.

    Star I am glad Mrs. Shirley is doing good. The thing that will make anyone proud is to have a good quality of life as they get older. My prayers are with you and yours. Take Care, Dee.

  9. So glad to hear that your mom had a good day today, and I'm sure that she was glad to hear that her girls came through while she was in the OR. Thanks for posting the things to remember.

    One more thing we should all keep in mind is that whether we have deluxe health coverage or government entitlement coverage or fall somewhere between those two levels, we all have a right to ask questions about our care and the care of our loved ones! It's better to work in partnership with your health providers from the beginning than to try to find solutions in a crisis frame of mind.

    I have written several posts about healthcare reform on my blog and I believe that each of your readers has the ability to effect some positive movement in this season of debate. We can do this for ourselves, our loved ones, and our fellow citizens.

    Wishing Mama Jones a steady recovery!

  10. Thank you Star for sharing your mom's story. I pray that she continue to heal and get back to things that she LOVE. I thank you for staying yourself and not paying someone, because of course you can afford it. Somethings money can't buy LOVE. I take strength in your story. Be encourage! God Bless!

  11. My Mom is also suffering from the same kind of ailment, ARTHRITIS, which is among among senile women. I do use home remedies to cure quickly. But for permanent cure, I am consulting the doctor..

  12. God bless your mother and her recovery! I know it is a blessing to have adequate medical coverage. I have had good health coverage, bad coverage and no coverage at some point in my life time. I am currently a disabled 36 year old female with a MS diagnosis. I now have medicare and I have to be honest when I say.. it is better than nothing at all, but it sucks.. It is like a disability income is just for paying your premium, deductibles, co pays and for drugs that you may need.. Not much room for normalcy or.. maybe not even a good chance at any thoughts of growing old with some type of quality of life or dignity. At the moment, I have to have eye surgery, but I have to have a pro-op physical by my primary but I owe her $74.. so guess what.. The office will not let me make an appt for the pre-op physical until that is payed. I know nothing is free, and I pay as I can. I always catch my balance up by the end of the year. So at the moment I sit here typing with blisters on my eyes because of a $74 balance. I had to cancel my surgery. I could find another primary physician to do the physical.. but then that creates another bill. I go to school.. I am trying to get back onto my feet.. but who knows what MS has planned for me.. Who wants to live on a disability income with bare minimum health coverage when they have worked hard since they were 16, went to college and had a budding career before they got sick. It is very sad that I have to thank God that I don't have children who have to inherit the burden I bare at this time in my life.
    God Bless America.. I am leaving if I should ever have the opportunity..

  13. Hi, Star!
    It’s good to hear that your mother is recovering well. I am going to pray for her. Family is priority in my life too. My father is 94 years old and he has many health problems, but I am doing whatever is possible to give him a better life. I also believe that my love is like a medicine for his body, it helps to heal him.

  14. Star, thank you so much for sharing your story and using it to educate and inform and encourage us to expect, and demand better treatment for ourselves. Too often we do assume the doctors & nurses are beyond reproach and that our own health is not in our hands as well as theirs. Your comments about patient advocacy also leads me to share a very important nonprofit that a friend started as a result of her incredible horror story with a hospital-acquired infection following routine surgery. Please check out and become familiar with the signs of post-operative issues that can still be devastating, even with a successful surgery! We should continue to be on the alert for possible infections or mistreatment at all times; the healthcare industry is far from perfect, and oftentimes their inability to properly care for us can literally cause death, through no fault of our own. Thanks for listening, and I will continue to keep your family up in prayer!

  15. This is why I adore you, Star! You are brilliant and bring the dark to light in a clear way that even I can understand. Thank you so much for all of the amazing work you do to encourage and educate. God bless you!


Your comments are welcome as long as they are in keeping with the spirit of this blog. They must be positive about your life, your community, our nation or our world. They must elevate...not denigrate...and if you criticize me or my position...state your name and email address so I know who you are and can address you directly. My rules. Star