Helpful Hints

Check Lists 12/31/2016

Recently I was sitting with a client as she was going through her pre-operation intake with the nurse before having surgery on her right eye. The nurse put a little sticker above her right eyebrow when they checked her in. Then just before she was wheeled into the operating suite the surgeon saw her and removed the sticker and made a small mark with a marker above her eyebrow. They explained this was done to make absolutely certain that they did not operate on the wrong eye. I've seen similar tactics used at other surgery facilities. It's common to see patients have the word NO written on their knee or elbow or hand that is not being operated on that day. And typically patients having surgery experience staff constantly asking them to confirm their name and DOB throughout their time at the facility. They have a very good reason to be doing this.

Post-Surgery Panic, Fear, and Anger 11/30/2016

Many years ago I had surgery, a reduction mammoplasty. This was a procedure that I very much wanted to have for many years and I was very excited to have it done. However, the first time I looked at myself in the mirror after the procedure I was overcome with panic and fear. My body looked so different that I hardly recognized myself and I was afraid I had made a huge mistake. This is not an uncommon experience for people who have just had surgery, particularly when it is a surgery that alters your appearance in some way. Even when the surgery is something that you want to have done, the shock of the change can be upsetting. The emotions that can arise might be confusing because it can be so unexpected.

Dressing for Surgery 10/24/2016

We often carefully plan the clothes we wear to parties or special events. We think ahead and consider our best options for the occasion. However we often don't take the same thoughtful approach to how we dress on the day we are having surgery. Thinking ahead and planning what you wear can make a difference in your comfort and recovery.

Preparing for Recovery 7/21/2016

We often think that the key to a successful surgery is in the hands of the surgeon and the other medical professionals caring for the patient. It's important to also remember that the patient plays a big role in a good outcome, too. I like to think of it as a team effort, the patient works together with the medical staff to have a good result. There are many things a patient can do in the days leading up to a scheduled surgery that can help in a positive outcome. Often there are prescriptions to be filled, supplies to be purchased, and your schedule needs to be cleared. It is also important to prepare your home for the recovery time. This step is very important, especially if the recovery will be for several days. I like to view it as transforming your home into a safe space for comfort and recovery.

Animals Just Know 6/22/2016

I used to own a very sweet but rather grumpy cat named Bacon. Like most cats he felt the house was his and he went wherever he wanted. He had a habit of walking on me and my husband while we were in bed. However I noticed that once my husband was sick he would jump over my husband's belly rather than walk on him. He was a cat but somehow he just knew my husband's stomach was tender and he should not walk on him. Animals just know when we aren't well.

Helpful Tips For A Successful Surgery 4/6/2016

Thoroughly read all of the pre-surgery instructions and follow all directions from your doctor. If you aren't sure about any of the instructions call your doctor's office and ask for clarification.

Following Orders – That means you! 11/30/2015

A nurse I know shared a story with me about a patient she once treated. It was a young child who was having a simple surgery. The patient almost died because her parents had allowed her to eat scrambled eggs the morning of her surgery. The child aspirated small bits of food into her lungs. If not for the quick actions of the medical team and frankly a lot of luck the story might have had a tragic ending. The nurse told me that the child's father told her that he didn't think they really meant "nothing at all" for breakfast. Most doctors, nurses and other medical professionals can share similar stories of patients dangerously ignoring orders.

The Good Patient 10/31/2015

More than twenty years ago I worked as a clerk at a retail job. Like most people who work in a service industry my co-workers and I sometimes complained about the "difficult customers" we encountered. While we had to treat everyone with courtesy frankly it was easier to do our job well for the customers who were kind and respectful when they interacted with us. There is no doubt that even though we put on a brave face and did our best for the customers who were rude and demanding to us they did not get the best service from us. It is simple; good customers get the best treatment. Since healthcare is also a service industry and the technicians, nurses and doctors who provide service are also human beings you will find you get the best care when you are a good patient.

Medical Waste 9/30/2015

When my husband was starting hospice care at home I met with the care coordinator from the hospice organization. This person asked me to confirm the current medications my husband was taking and quickly said something about making sure he had a full supply of everything at home. I told the person that he had plenty of medications and I could easily pick up refills at the local pharmacy which was two blocks from our home. The caseworker reassured me that the hospice organization would take care of it. I didn't ask for further information. The next day a sixty day supply of every medication my husband was taking arrived by express delivery. I was confused and annoyed. About a week later I was disgusted and horrified because my husband had passed away and I had hundreds of pills that had to go into a landfill. It was a terrible waste.

Trust Your Gut 8/31/2015

Recently a client of mine* received a diagnosis of breast cancer. This was, of course, upsetting news but compared to many other people who receive that news her prognosis is very good. The cancer was caught at a very early stage and she was able to start treatment quickly. Her odds of survival are extremely high and the type of treatment she is receiving is much shorter and easier than it would have been if it had been diagnosed at a later stage. While cancer is never good news, in her case it is manageable and that is primarily due to the early detection.

Don't Be A Visiting Jerk 7/30/2015

Imagine you are sitting in a hospital waiting room before a scheduled procedure, waiting to hear your name called by the receptionist. You haven't had anything to eat or drink for more than 12 hours and you are tired, a little anxious and sick of the "hurry up and wait" experience of a hospital.  Someone comes into the waiting room, sits down next to you and begins to eat a burrito.  You didn't realize just how hungry you were until the smell of that burrito hit you. That smell is like a sucker punch to the gut.  When this happened to my husband the word he used to describe this individual was "asshat".

Now What? 6/30/2015

I have a very distinct memory from when I was 10 years old. When I came home from school one day my mother told me some news, our family friend's son Wade had been diagnosed with brain cancer. My reaction was nonchalant which was typical for a young child, I didn't understand the gravity of the situation. My mother said to me "Hope, their lives have changed forever. Their life will always be marked by how it was before Wade had cancer and how it is now that Wade has cancer." It was one of the first times in my young life that I became aware of some of the difficulties of life.  Twenty-eight years later when a doctor told me that my husband had gastric cancer I fully understood the reality of my mother's words.  From the moment that I heard the word cancer, life changed forever.

They Can Handle The Truth 5/30/2015

Recently I was with someone I know at a health care facility for treatment for a minor issue. During the normal intake process the medical assistant reviewed the patient's health history, current medications and symptoms. When the medical assistant asked the patient if they smoked I was shocked when the patient said no. I had seen this person smoking a cigarette just an hour before. Sadly, it is not uncommon for patients to be "less than truthful" to doctors and other healthcare providers.

Right Of Refusal 4/30/2015

When I was in high school I was unexpectedly hospitalized for several days to treat an infected mosquito bite. Because the bite was so close to my knee the doctor worried the infection could cause long term damage to my joint. So I was admitted to the hospital to have it drained and treated and I was placed on very high doses of IV antibiotics for several days. This happened at a teaching hospital. After my doctor treated me there were several new residents and medical students who visited me and reexamined me for the benefit of their own educational development purposes. At the time I found it amusing and interesting to talk to so many new people about my knee. Recently a friend of mine was unexpectedly hospitalized for an injury and experienced a similar "over review" of their case. Unlike me the patient did not appreciate a parade of new doctors and care givers examining and reexamining the injury and asking the same questions about it. I immediately suggested that my friend refuse to allow anyone but the primary physician perform any exams or have any discussions with the patient about the case. The patient always has a right to refuse a test, exam or any sort of treatment or care unless they are mentally incapacitated.

Control Issues 3/27/2015

One of the things that often happens when a person faces major illness or injury is a loss of control. The body does not work the way that it used to, sometimes temporarily, sometimes forever. When that happens, the patient often experiences feelings of fear, anger, and frustration. To compensate for the loss of control it is common for patients to try to reestablish feelings of empowerment by exercising control over every aspect of their life that they can. Sometimes the patient may want certain things done in a particular way or at a particular time or in a particular order. This can sometimes present a challenge for the caregivers and family members who are supporting the patient.

You Just Don't Understand 2/28/2015

A friend of mine who suffers from depression once made the comment that "when you have cancer people line up to help you but when you have a mental breakdown they run in the other direction." Sadly, this is true in my experience too. Many people don't get how hard it is for patients with chronic conditions that have symptoms that don't present the same way as more well known conditions or diseases like cancer or a broken bone.

Mad as Hell 1/30/2015

The day after we learned of my husband's cancer diagnosis we tried to resume some of our normal everyday life habits. It felt comforting to do "normal things" like read my Facebook feed. After reading for a while I suddenly got really angry at my friends. I was very upset and felt a ball of anger well up in my stomach because they were posting jokes and silly things. I thought to myself "How can they be telling jokes at a time like this?" It only took a few moments before I realized the ridiculousness of my thoughts. Of course they were posting lighthearted things on Facebook, this was a normal day for them. We had not told anyone of his diagnosis yet and even if we had they certainly had every right to live their lives and post jokes. I was surprised at myself and suddenly embarrassed at my thoughts. However, feelings of anger are a common and normal part of coping with illness.

Gift Giving For The Patient 12/20/2014

With the end of the year and the holidays nearly upon us many of us are thinking of gift giving and when a person in your life has a major illness it can sometimes be challenging to find the right gift. I've recently had two different people ask me for suggestions for appropriate gifts to get for someone with a major illness. One person recently learned of a friend's brain cancer diagnosis and wondered what she could send to the patient that would be useful and comforting. The other person had noticed that an elderly relative with Alzheimer's disease appeared to be declining in the last several months and wanted to know if there were specific gifts she could send that might help the patient feel more comfortable in the assisted living facility as their memory declines. I was glad that they were thoughtfully researching options for appropriate gifts.

Let Me Know If You Need Anything 11/30/2014

Throughout the time that my husband was sick when people learned of his condition they almost always said to us "Let me know if you need anything". It is a common thing people say whenever they hear others are struggling with any health or other life crisis. I'm pretty sure I heard this well over 100 times. Prior to becoming a caregiver to my husband I probably said it as many times to others. It's something that is considered the polite and appropriate thing to say.

That Isn't Funny...Actually It Is 10/30/2014

Recently a client of mine was transferred to a skilled nursing facility after a long hospital stay. Although her condition had improved in the hospital she was still quite weak and unable to talk much. Her recovery and rehabilitation period at the new facility was expected to be several weeks. After I made sure she was settled into the new place I emailed her adult children to let them know how she was doing. I told them I would be stopping by her home the next day to pick up some of her own toiletries, clothes and small comforts from home. I asked them if they could suggest a few specific decorations or special items at the house that I could bring to spruce up her room and make it feel more like home. The oldest son replied and suggested I pick up several framed photos of his sister, "since mom likes her best". He then immediately sent an apology message for making a joke with such a serious situation. I thanked him for the comment and encouraged him and his siblings to use humor to lighten things up as they dealt with all the issues of their mother's condition. I believe humor is an important coping mechanism.

Managing Your Records and Your Healthcare 9/30/2014

The first time that I took my husband to the hospital I was taught an important lesson on one of the best ways patients can advocate for themselves. Earlier that day he had visited his primary care physician and had blood tests done. That evening his doctor called and urged him to go to the hospital because the results of that test showed his red blood cell count was very low. Before we left for the hospital I grabbed a file folder with his complete medical records. He happened to have all his records at home because we had just moved to California from Colorado and before moving he had requested a copy of everything from all his physicians there.

Feeling Pretty While Sick 8/31/2014

When I was a college student, a friend of mine who majored in psychology told me that she had read a study that showed students who dressed up when they took a test had higher scores than those who wore "regular clothes". I'm not sure of the scientific validity of that study but it sounded like something with merit and I took the results to heart. When I had exams I always wore a nice dress, took time to style my hair and wore make-up and jewelry. It was quite a stark contrast to my usual college student apparel of a rumpled t-shirt and jeans. I'm not sure if it impacted my scores but I did make the dean's list a few times and I certainly felt like it helped. The idea that when you look better, you feel better and that that improves your success rate is nothing new. Most career advisers recommend dressing well as a way to express professionalism, to feel confident, and to improve your career. I believe it is important to apply the same logic when you are coping with illness.

Bad Bedside Manner 8/30/2014

In our modern age, it is unfortunately rather common for people to experience difficult customer service interactions. Most of us can share several stories about rude and upsetting conversations with store clerks or call center staff. It's simply part of life. However when you experience an unpleasant interaction with healthcare staff related to your medical care it can be a particularly awful experience.

After The Credits Roll 6/30/2014

Recently a friend of mine completed an incredibly difficult treatment plan. This course of treatment involved a full year of intensive drug therapy with brutal side effects. As the months of treatment dragged on her friends and family rallied around her to offer support and encouragement. Week by week as it wore on she focused on the day when she would have the last and final injection of the medication. When that day arrived she was flooded with messages of congratulations and hugs and high fives. Finally it was over! Weeks later when she got the news that the treatment was successful there was even more rejoicing. If a movie had been made of this story the frame would freeze on her smiling face and the credits would roll.

Firing Your Doctor 5/30/2014

Prior to starting my business I worked as a Human Resources professional. Doing this work I was sometimes involved in the process of terminating the employment of individuals who were failing to meet their job expectations. Anyone who has ever been a manager knows how uncomfortable it can sometimes be to tell a problem employee that their employment is being terminated. Even if the individual has had many warnings and opportunities to improve and willfully continues to behave inappropriately it's not an easy conversation. It is however a necessary thing to do because failing to take this action when needed has negative consequences for all the other staff, customers, and the employee.

Accepting Reality 4/30/2014

It is my personal opinion that one of the most destructive things in our lives is the human tendency to procrastinate. We are all guilty of it. We all know that it doesn't help to put things off and yet nearly everyone does this regularly. When we do this in our career or in a social situation it can create unpleasant consequences. However when we procrastinate on medical issues it can sometimes be deadly.

Life Goes On 3/27/2014

Human beings tend to be creatures of habit; we generally do things the same way most of the time. We often socialize with the same people, do the same things at our routine events and follow a typical schedule or pattern in our lives. When major illness or injury enters our lives we often put the rest of life on hold and managing the illness or injury becomes our main focus. To a certain extent this is the most logical and appropriate way to respond. However, after an initial adjustment period, most medical professionals recommend that the patient try to shift focus away from illness and return to normal life as much as possible.

Life In The Passenger's Seat 2/28/2014

Being the caretaker of a family member who is coping with a major medical issue presents many challenges. One of the more difficult parts of this experience can be accepting that as the caretaker you are closely connected and deeply involved but because you are not the patient you are not the ultimate decision maker on the patient's treatment or care options. It is very common for a patient to be offered a choice in treatment options with each choice presenting different challenges and risks. It is up to the patient to decide which path feels best for them. Sometimes the patient may feel strongly about one particular option and the caretaker disagrees. Of course it is the patient's right to decide what happens to his or her body and life but whatever choice the patient makes it will impact the caregiver as well.

The Blame Game 1/31/2014

When we got the devastating news that my husband's cancer had spread and was no longer considered curable, a lot of difficult thoughts and emotions began to surface. One of the more challenging and difficult thoughts was the idea that we could have or should have done something differently in his treatment that might have prevented this outcome. Shortly after we got the bad news I had a long conversation with a friend of mine who is also an oncologist. When I asked her how the outcome might have been affected if we had chosen a different treatment plan from the beginning she wouldn't answer. She simply said "It is a dangerous thing to play the 'what if' game." At the time her response annoyed me but now I can see the wisdom of it. This logic goes beyond questions of treatment choices but also to the cause of an illness.

Time May Not Be On Your Side 12/21/2013

It is my personal opinion that one of the most destructive things in our lives is the human tendency to procrastinate. We are all guilty of it. We all know that it doesn't help to put things off and yet nearly everyone does this regularly. When we do this in our career or in a social situation it can create unpleasant consequences. However when we procrastinate on medical issues it can sometimes be deadly.

Expectations 11/30/2013

For me, one of the more surprising aspects of dealing with major illness is coping with the expectations other people in your life may have about the medical condition.  People usually have a certain set of expectations about how they think someone will look and behave while they are dealing with a particular medical condition.   When they learn someone has cancer they may expect the patient to be bald, weak and thin. They may expect a patient recovering from surgery to bedridden.  They may expect   someone with lupus or Crohn's disease or other chronic illness to "look sick" in a particular way. If patients appear to be normal looking they may actually be surprised and even upset by it. Conversely, people are sometimes shocked when they see the patient look different than normal. Sometimes people react with looks of horror or dismay when they first notice the patient has a drastic weight change or other noticeable physical change. The unfulfilled expectation and resulting comments or reactions is a common issue that patients and caretakers must manage.

Why Me? 10/31/2013

If you are dealing with a major illness you can be certain that at times you will feel like screaming "WHY ME?" Feelings of anger and resentment and general "victimhood" are natural and normal emotions for anyone coping with the stress of illness. Yet often we feel we shouldn't have, let alone express, those feelings. Often this happens because there is a general belief in our culture that having a positive attitude helps in healing. The upbeat, chipper patient who finds a way to remain positive even when things are difficult is held up as a sort of hero character in our society. While there is evidence that having a positive attitude may lead to better results for some patients, I believe this concept is a bit overblown in our society.

This Wasn't Part of the Plan 9/30/2013

Recently a friend contacted me for advice related to finding in-home medical care for her aging parents. I was able to connect her with some resources for professionals who specialize in providing clinical care for the elderly. My friend was understandably upset when she realized that her parents could no longer care for themselves on their own. Part of her frustration was due to the fact that the changes were sudden and drastic and, specifically, she was not expecting a sharp decline in her mother's condition. Everyone expected that her father, who is much older, would have a decline in health first. This was a reasonable expectation based on statistics and probability and yet it isn't what happened in this particular case. So what do you do when health issues don't go as planned?

Sharing Is Best 8/31/2013

Recently I was sitting in the waiting room of a clinic while a client was meeting with her doctor. There were two couples in the waiting room with me and they started up a conversation with each other. After the usual comments about the weather the conversation shifted into discussion of their conditions and how they were being treated. One patient shared about her experience with a particular treatment option and suggested the other patient ask her doctor about it. They exchanged a lot of information and then suddenly both pairs were whisked off to their respective appointments. While I have no idea if the information they exchanged would be helpful, I was struck by the importance of this meeting. When one is dealing with a major illness it is important to connect with others in your similar situation. The problem is we often don't have time to connect with our close friends and family members, let alone meet new people. Yet one of the most important resources you can find for valuable insights is with people who have the same medical condition.

Sometimes People Say Really Dumb Stuff 7/31/2013

It is surprising how people with really good intentions sometimes say really upsetting things. Many people I know with major health issues tell me about their frustration with the things that people sometimes say to them. Throughout my husband's illness the people in our lives usually said supportive, kind, and helpful things to us. However, I must say that I was surprised by the number of people who said things to us that were rather insensitive, thoughtless, or occasionally downright rude. Often these were well meaning friends and family members who would say something that was pretty much the last thing we wanted to hear. For example, it was quite common when people heard the news of his cancer diagnosis to immediately share the story of someone they knew who had died from cancer. This phenomenon isn't unique to cancer patients; most expectant mothers experience other women suddenly sharing their horror stories of complicated, painful, or otherwise difficult childbirth experiences. It is also common for people dealing with a medical issue to receive tons of unwelcome advice about a "better way" to treat their condition. All of this can add an extra dose of frustration to an already difficult time in your life. While every situation is different and every interaction is unique, there are a few things I've learned in handling this delicate and all too common situation.

Getting Legal 6/30/2013

I'm often surprised by the ability of the human mind to deny things that make us uncomfortable. Every one of us knows that we are going to die someday yet the majority of people die without a will. A lawyer friend of mine recently told me that he had just visited a client in the hospital to complete a will and estate planning paperwork. This client was 87 years old and waited until he was very sick and in the hospital to create a will. I'm sure any lawyer would tell you that quickly signing papers from a hospital bed is not the best way to make these plans. The time to make these critical decisions is long before one is sick. We generally think that end of life issues are only for the old and who wants to admit they are getting old? It's natural to want to put it off. The problem is you can jeopardize your well being and make things far more difficult and expensive for your family when you wait.

Notebook 5/31/2013

Recently, I gave a lecture at a local non-profit about how one can be an advocate for a family member or friend who is dealing with a medical issue. It was a casual setting and one of the audience members raised her hand to ask a question just as I was beginning my talk. She said she might not be able to stay for the entire talk so she wanted to know at the start what was the single most important thing that she could do to be an effective healthcare advocate for her mother. I told her to buy a notebook and write everything down. She seemed a little flustered by the simplicity of my answer but I assured her that there was nothing more important that she could do than to be a good note taker.

A Change You Might Not Expect 3/31/2013

One of the most challenging moments for me during my husband's illness was when I had to tell him that he wasn't allowed to do something. He wanted to drive himself to a doctor's appointment but I recognized that his disease had progressed so that his concentration was affected and he could not safely drive. It was a difficult conversation for both of us, I felt awful and he was understandably upset with me. He was a grown man, not a child; I was his wife, not his mother. Yet his disease suddenly cast this completely new and uncomfortable parent/child dynamic onto our relationship.

Taking Care of the Caretaker 2/28/2013

Being a caretaker for a loved one who is coping with a major illness is one of the most important roles we can ever play in life. Unfortunately most of us fall into the trap of thinking that role requires us to wear ourselves out and neglect our own needs. I learned (the hard way, unfortunately) that it just doesn't have to be that way. Furthermore, it's better for the patient in your life if you take care of the caretaker too.

When You Hit The Wall 1/31/2013

When dealing with a major health issue, one thing you can expect to happen from time to time is difficulty in dealing with the medical bureaucracy. Hospitals, clinics, and physician offices are no different than any other large institutions in our society. In spite of the best intentions of all the dedicated individuals who work in healthcare, you can expect breakdowns and problems to occur. Sadly, this happens often in our modern lives, but when it happens while you are dealing with a serious illness the stress and frustration is often far worse.

Delivering The News 12/31/2012

Someone recently asked me for advice on the best way to tell others that they have cancer; they wanted tips on the most comforting ways they could deliver the difficult news. Unfortunately I have a lot of experience delivering "bad news". First, I had to notify friends and family that my husband had cancer. Then I had to let people know that the cancer spread and was terminal. Finally even though most people heard from others I also was the one to let some people know that my husband passed away. More than a year after his death sometimes distant colleagues have not heard the news and I've had to tell them what happened. Even in our modern era of instant mass communication it is surprising how often I had to personally give someone the difficult news.

Creating A Patient User Manual 11/28/2012

One of the most challenging parts of dealing with a major illness is that friends and acquaintances sometimes feel awkward around the patient. People feel bad because the patient is so sick and they are often afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. This nervousness can sometimes lead to conversations with long awkward silences or prompt people to ask odd or inappropriate questions or abruptly leave. No one wants this to happen so giving visitors a bit of guidance can go a long way towards making everyone feel more comfortable.

Finding "The Best" Care 11/7/2012

When you receive a diagnosis of cancer or other major illness, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is where to have treatment. Usually your primary care physician or a hospital physician will refer you to a specialist within their network. Then you will have to decide if you want to be treated by that physician or seek out a different one. You may find yourself flooded with advice and suggestions from well-meaning friends, family members and colleagues, who will tell you about a certain doctor or treatment center that is "one of the best" out there.

Managing the Help 10/28/2012

It's just part of human nature: when people hear that someone they know is facing a serious illness, they want to help. But sometimes people with good intentions can create more stress for the people they're trying to support.

Preparing For Surgery 9/30/2012

One of the most nerve wracking times in one's life can be the days just before and after undergoing surgery. It doesn't really matter if it is a major procedure involving an inpatient hospital stay or if it is basic outpatient procedure in a clinic or surgery center, most of us are anxious about it. Going under general anesthesia and having your body cut open even a little bit is scary. Having been through multiple surgical procedures both big and small myself as well as supporting my husband and clients through this process many times, these are some helpful tips I've picked up along the way.

Second Opinions 8/1/2012

My husband was treated by two different oncologists during the course of his illness. Both of these physicians have years of experience and are highly respected in the field. We had absolute faith in both of them. When we found out that my husband's cancer had reached stage four, we had some important decisions to make regarding the next steps for his treatment, so we met with both oncologists separately to get their recommendations. Those meetings surprised us, because each doctor had a drastically different recommendation for the next steps of treatment; as that treatment went on, the doctors often contradicted each other over what was advisable or even possible for his care.

Everyone Needs A Healthcare Advocate 6/22/2012

Navigating the complexities of the healthcare system is challenging for anyone. When you're facing a major illness or recovering from an injury or surgery, navigating the healthcare system is nearly impossible. The patient needs to focus attention and energy on the challenge of getting well. That's why I believe all patients need a healthcare advocate, someone whose sole purpose is to support the patient.

What Can You Do To Support Your Friend With A Major Illness? 4/6/2012

Most of us just don't know what to do when someone is seriously ill. We want to help. We feel weird and awkward and scared. So: if you have a friend in this situation, what can you do?

What Should I Ask The Doctor? 4/6/2012

When my husband was starting hospice care at home I met with the care coordinator from the hospice organization. This person asked me to confirm the current medications my husband was taking and quickly said something about making sure he had a full supply of everything at home. I told the person that he had plenty of medications and I could easily pick up refills at the local pharmacy which was two blocks from our home. The caseworker reassured me that the hospice organization would take care of it. I didn't ask for further information. The next day a sixty day supply of every medication my husband was taking arrived by express delivery. I was confused and annoyed. About a week later I was disgusted and horrified because my husband had passed away and I had hundreds of pills that had to go into a landfill. It was a terrible waste.

Advance Directives 4/6/2012

Who likes to think about what will happen if you or your loved one can no longer make medical decisions? If you say you do, you're lying. No one really wants to contemplate the idea of themselves or their loved ones being incapable of making their own decisions. It's scary and uncomfortable. Because of this discomfort, though, we can neglect making the arrangements for the kind of treatment and care we would want at the end of our lives.