- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
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 challenge...here are some things to remember:
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.
Posted by Star Jones Esq at 5:42 PM