Wednesday, January 31, 2007
When the health news sucks
…Jessie Gruman, PhD, is founder and president of the Center for the Advancement of Health (www.cfah.org) and is very hip.
…Still, after four horrible health problems, she says she does not want to “consume” health care. She does not want to research, comparison-shop, make complex decisions.
…She wants someone to say: “Here is the perfect camera for you and look! It’s on sale!”
…But this is not how it works these days.People don’t defer as much to doctors and most doctors are reluctant to take charge.
…Her book is called After Shock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You—or Someone You Love--a Devastating Diagnosis.
…Her four experiences were 3 cancer verdicts and a heart problem.
…If you get a bad diagnosis, she says, you need to: Respond to the shock, learn about the condition and treatments, decide whether to involve others, find the right doctors and hospitals, get timely medical appointments, seek second opinions, manage work, pay for care, find relief, and then take the next steps.
…That’s a lot.
…Gruman recommends taking a few days off to absorb the shock. Your thoughts may race, you may cry, you may get irritated. Don’t go out. You don’t even have to talk to anyone. Protect yourself.
…Only then, do you start the research process. And this includes researching your insurance. You may need to blow up your card so the writing is legible—you will need it.
…As for others involved in your care, you may need someone else to listen during fraught appts. That person should confirm they will come and not make you wonder or fret.
…If you are asked to accompany the patient, ask the patient what role they want you to play—should you ask questions or will they handle that? Bring paper and a pencil. Be early.
…Gruman also recommends that the “partner” not talk to others about the appointment without permission. This applies to family members, too. Never miss an appt. If you can’t do all this, then don’t take it on.
…With her detached retina and surgery, HA knows the numbing effects of bad news. The confusion and inability to think. You try to think and then conclude: “Nope, nothing coming.”
…This book could be a big help to anyone in a similar situation. HA recommends it.