First off, let me thank all the medical care providers helping me beat cancer! My treatment plan is about 1/2-way done and at every step I am getting the best results possible. I’m giving a shout out to GOD and the power of PRAYER, too. Thank you to all the friends, family, church family and others that have stood by me with all kinds of help. That said, I have a couple of pet peeves I’m going to throw out there.
1) I totally understand that my doctors have to ask about my symptoms. They need to know do I feel light-headed, nauseous, or otherwise unwell. They also need to monitor me for anemia and I appreciate that they let me know how my blood work and other tests come out. However, it’s not necessary to ask if I have this or that symptom “yet.” To me, that implies it is just a matter of time before I experience that symptom and I have to speak out and say: “No, and I don’t plan to invite that symptom into my life….please don’t add “yet” to that question. This probably sounds like nitpicking to many people, but I believe strongly in the power of our language and the words we use.
2) Here means different things to different people. Please don’t leave an answering machine message saying you are with so and so’s office and I have an appointment “here” with the date and time. Does here mean the town? The hospital? The medical center? The doctor may have more than one office and visit several towns. Please take an extra minute or two and give me the name and address of the exact location so I will arrive where I am expected.
3) Be kind. It makes a huge difference when someone is chronically ill. The wonderful news is, everyone that I have spoken with has been kind. They take the time to treat me like a person, not just a patient or a cancer survivor. For that I am grateful and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
To patients everywhere that struggle with chronic illness-hang in there! Speak up respectfully but firmly to get the care and treatment you need. I have found most medical professionals to be very responsive, but they aren’t mind readers and they don’t know what bothers you if you don’t communicate.
I’ll end with a story that illustrates a bit of miscommunication, but has a very happy ending.
I was told to come in for an evening MRI with contrast “here,” which I took to mean part of John Stoddard Cancer Center of Unity Point, located at the Iowa Methodist Medical Center. I drove an hour to get to the appointment, arriving just a few minutes early. The Cancer Center was locked. I called the answering service and they found out that the appointment was actually at the Iowa Methodist Hospital, at the other side of the center. I made my way to the correct location and was told that they couldn’t do the MRI I needed because there was nobody with access to the contrast chemicals and nobody authorized to do them. These MRIs are not done at night.
The old me would probably have stewed and gone home, calling the next day to set up another appointment. If it were a bad day, the old me might have exploded. Instead, I took a deep breath and explained my situation. I had traveled an hour one way for the appointment and needed this done to proceed with my radiation treatments. If I didn’t get the MRI that night, it would delay my cancer treatment.
And that’s where the story gets good. The woman I was talking to not only understood, but took it on her self to make it right. I had to wait a few minutes, but she made the effort to organize the personnel and resources needed to make the MRI happen. She took it on herself to go beyond her job description and make things right. I appreciate that kind of care, and I find that as I work on my communication skills people are willing to work with me so I can get the care I need. A big thank you to medical people everywhere that “get it.” The world needs you and I appreciate you!