The Tough Love Job of Patient Advocacy

Jeff and Steph Healy are Team Aztec Design Services, LLC

Tough Love & Patient Advocacy

I’m hoping (and praying) that I’m finished with a very tough job. No, it’s not setting up a Google Campaign, or brainstorming a logo design with a new client. What’s the job? It’s not what you’d expect. It’s the full-time job of advocating for my husband, who was hospitalized twice in six weeks. After not feeling well on and off for about a month, I came home to find Jeff writhing with stomach pain, a pain that would take days of morphine drips to get under control. It’s taken me a few weeks to sit down and write this; admittedly, I took better care of my family than I did myself during the ordeal. But it’s important that I share this with you, in the hopes of preventing future frustrations for my friends, family and clients.

Our first visit to Westerly Hospital was in the early evening hours, and getting information from the staff was like pulling teeth. I found myself asking over and over “Where are you taking him?”, “What’s next?” and “Any results yet?”. Not a single bit of information came freely, and answers would come in days, not hours. The doctors seemed like ghosts to me; my visits in the ensuing days came too early or, more often then not, I had “just missed” them. I made some critical errors though: I was trying to take care of Maia as much as I could, trying to keep things normal for her. But there was nothing normal about this situation; I should have relied a lot more on my family. I desperately wanted to be part of what was going on with and around Jeff, but I was stubborn. I’d learn my lessons the hard way and spent more than a few nights awake, alone and frustrated.

Procrastination is not in my vocabulary, and my clients and family will attest to that. I want results and I want them fast, and I do whatever it takes to get them. I’m not very good at relying on others to give me the information I need. The question of what was causing the stomach pain was answered quickly: Pancreatitis. The reason behind it was much slower to come. After CT Scans, Ultra Sounds, an MRI and finally an Endoscopy, the culprit was revealed three full days later: The Gall Bladder. It was uneventfully removed a few days later.

When it came to the second visit just five short weeks later, I felt like a pro. The two visits were like night and day, literally and figuratively. Jeff was again admitted to Westerly Hospital, this time in the morning. The nurse in the ER was on top of things and I knew what was going on every step of the way. I was allowed to stay with Jeff during the tests because this time, I asked. I knew where the warm blankets were when Jeff got cold, I knew where I could (and couldn’t) get the best cell phone signal, and I called on family to help out with Maia so I could concentrate on taking care of Jeff.

To be continued…