Take Control of Your Health
Seldom do I publish a public service announcement but today is another day. Allow me to explain.
Last evening we were talking with an old friend about a new diagnosis of cancer and we started chatting about his treatment plan to attack this devastating verdict. My husband replied to him, “My wife, who is a nurse, will be happy to assist in researching and explaining the treatment options offered to you.” His response was “Well I am doing what the doctors TELL me to do. I don’t really understand the plan anyway, so no worries.”
After that conversation my soapbox came out and I “ramped up to it and rolled on”……..let me say this, cancer, spinal cord injury, or any long-term diagnosis is NOT a death sentence. It’s not an “Ok, my life is over, let me lay down and wait” plan. It only means that you have to rethink your game plan while a MAMMOTH detour in your being is occurring but you will move on. Weigh your options and elect what decision is considered best for you and your loved ones.
OMGoodness please KNOW your treatment options and how that management plan will affect your body and your well-being. Talk with your care team and discuss choices and which option you feel is best suited for your health. You know your body and you recognize what works and what doesn’t work.
“Everything is within your power and your power is within you.”
~ Janice Trachtman, Catching What Life Throws at You: Inspiring True Stories of Healing
Funny story, well maybe not for the medical personnel involved but when I was hospitalized after our auto misfortune, the cause of my spinal cord injury, the nurses in the ICU were concerned I was experiencing a head injury due to me being a difficult patient. I wasn’t being intentionally challenging, I just didn’t agree to the management plan being put before me. Occasionally, all it took was a bit of explanation from the medical team to clarify the whys and hows but that wasn’t being done. So I questioned every move being performed. That didn’t sit well with the nurses and physicians who are not used to being doubted, as our colleague in the opening paragraph allowed. Remember our earlier acquaintance, who accepted the treatment plan to go as scheduled but he didn’t know what was happening? I was alert enough to quiz EVERYTHING. I had to process the beginning with the end effects to see if it made sense to me. I wanted to know the whys and hows. I was trained as a nurse to “always have a questioning attitude.” So I had an interrogative boldness when it came to my care plan.
Care teams (doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dietitians, lab personnel) are aware of the treatment plan for any patient and the management that has worked in the past. BUT, that doesn’t mean that would be the best option for you. I had a very dear friend going through cancer treatments, who was scheduled for four medication regimens, but after treatment #2, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t put one foot in front of the other without holding onto the walls for stabilization. Every single morsel he put into her mouth came back up with vengeance. He was literally dying in front of our eyes and he was quickly becoming weaker and weaker every day. I called his care team, explained who I was and what I was seeing, and their response was, “that’s not uncommon.” Even sitting in a wheelchair, I wanted to stand up and shout, “Are you serious?” I was pretty sure my eyes bugged out at that response. I recommended he receive some IV fluids and to be examined. The care team finally agreed to appease me. Some friends drove him to the clinic for IV fluids but not a single physician laid eyes on him. He received IV fluids and was discharged back home, still as weak as before. I was astonished upon his return home of his outward appearance. Now I’m sure some of you are wondering why I didn’t go with him, remember I’m in a wheelchair, transportation is not easy while dealing with me too. To make a long story short, I investigated for a second opinion; he was examined by another doctor and was told if he, our very dear friend, had taken dose #3, he would have died. END of story. The medication being given to him, to heal his body, was actually killing him. He was being destroyed right before our eyes. Medications stopped, he is healthy and happy today, still being closely monitored but he can walk and eat again.
My take-home message is to maintain control of your life, if your heart and your gut are sending you mixed messages to think twice before agreeing to a treatment, step back and think to yourself, is this what I want to do? Don’t be afraid to challenge your physician. Meaning do NOT be frightened to ask the whys or hows concerning your care plan, understand the proposal, and the path being taken to obtain that end result. Know your body and comprehend the medical terminology/definitions, i.e. autonomic dysreflexia, level of injury, urinary symptoms, medications, etc. and how it affects your being. Be comfortable to explain the terminology and the affects. It will quite possibly save your life.
Thanks for reading and our goal is for all of us to remain healthy.
It’s all good, so keep on rollin,’
Patty, BSN, RNC and Roberta, RN
The Rollin’ RNs ™