By: Patty Kunze
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 finding. My husband replied to him, “My wife, who is a nurse, will be happy to assist in researching and explaining the treatment options being offered.” His response was “Well I am doing what the doctors TELL me to do. I don’t understand the plan but I trust them.”
After that conversation, my soapbox came out and I ramped up and rolled on. I then wanted to scream, 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 sit here and wait” plan. It only means that you have to rethink your life strategy 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.
Please KNOW your treatment options and how that management proposal will affect your physical body and your mental well-being. Talk with your care team and discuss choices and the option you feel is best suited for your health.
“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 here it is. When I was hospitalized after our auto misfortune, the cause of my spinal cord injury, the ICU staff were concerned I was experiencing a head injury due to me being a difficult patient. I wasn’t being intentionally “challenging” but I didn’t agree with 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 were 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.
My take-home message is to maintain control of your life, if your heart and your gut are sending you mixed messages, 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 explaining the terminology and the effects. It will quite possibly save your life.
It’s all good,
The Rollin RN ™
Patty, BSN, RN