The Tough Love Job of Patient Advocacy Part 2

Tough Love Too

Due to the heavy pain medication Jeff was on, it would be two full days before my husband spoke more than a few words to me since that visit. But I was getting answers this time around, doctors came and went and with every visit, I had another piece to the puzzle because I spoke up. I was relieved to find out that there was a good chance that this was an isolated case. The doctors believed that his pancreas was traumatized too soon after the surgery; an assertion that was validated by Jeff telling us that the dog had jumped on him the night before and he felt a “pop”.

While Jeff still struggles with some digestion issues and I suspect a bit of exhaustion every night he arrives home from work, he is on the mend. He’s also one not to complain. And I’ve stopped complaining about that first hospital stay. I’ve finally figured out that there is only one person who was truly in charge of Jeff’s well-being: Me. If he needed something, I tried my best to make it happen. I realized that advocacy is not about taking a back seat, it’s all about firmly taking the wheel.

My advice to you:

  • Know the names of every person in charge of your loved ones care.
  • Ask questions, over and over if needed.
  • Don’t be afraid to step on a few toes if you have to.
  • Do whatever “it” takes.
  • Be strong, and ask for help from family and friends so that you are able to assist in the hospital or home care.
  • Remember: YOU are the customer in every way, shape and form. YOU are paying for the hospital stay and their doctors’ salaries, in the form of insurance premiums. YOU are paying for every test, and all medications.
  • Finally, take care of YOURSELF, so that you have the energy and power to care for your loved one both in the hospital and when they arrive back home. It’s the best gift you can give yourself and your family.

It took some time, but I realized that advocating for Jeff was not much different from running my business: Asking the right questions of the right people, having the right answers to probing doctors, keeping constant, open communication, and knowing when to call in reinforcements. Relying on others is the hardest part for me, combined with not knowing something that I knew somebody, somewhere already had an answer to.

I’ve modified my hopes and prayers some as I complete this post. While they still include the continued recovery and health of my husband and family, they are also geared towards you. That YOU learn how to advocate for others, especially family when facing a health crisis. That you learn from my mistakes, as well as from my successes. And finally, that you never have to worry about becoming an advocate for a loved one. But if you do, it’ll be a tough job, with big results.