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Archive for October, 2010
Not the typical diagnosis one hears at the doctor’s office. Stranger still, it wasn’t me hearing it.
If it had been, it wouldn’t have been ultra surprising. For several (ahem) decades, this body has routinely presented an out-of-the-ordinary case for my medical team to investigate. I figure it’s my contribution to science. Hey, I help where I can.
So it was nice, for once, not to be the anomaly, the one deemed weird.
My friend “Julie” asked me to go with her to a follow-up appointment at her neurologist’s office. For the last several months, Julie has experienced numbness along the left side of her body, headaches, lightheadedness, and some other symptoms.
She visited a few doctors before seeing the neurologist. In our community at this time, the demand for neurological services outweighs the availability. Appointments are hard to get and are typically several months out. What’s a numb, lightheaded, headachy girl to do?
Julie saw her primary care physician, who was concerned about her symptoms. He was reluctant to order an MRI or CT before the neurologist had a chance to weigh in on which would be more appropriate.
In the meantime, Julie went to a chiropractor. He helped her with a number of issues, and listened intensely while she recounted her last months of symptoms. “Why haven’t you seen someone before now?” “I’ve been busy, doc.” Uh huh. Some of us belong to the ‘if it hasn’t killed me by now, then it can’t be that serious’ camp. Guilty as charged.
After examining Julie, and hearing more about symptoms that didn’t point to any one condition, a diagnosis was determined. “You’re weird.”
It wasn’t the first time she heard those words, and it wasn’t to be the last.
The long-awaited neurological appointment arrived, and Julie was asked to schedule a CT. Waiting for the follow-up appointment with her neurologist to hear the results, Julie asked me to go with her for support and to act as note-taker, if need be. This could be the beginning of a serious ordeal. It required backup support.
I was happy that she asked, as we’re both usually too independent for our own good and tend to tackle big appointments solo. Selfishly, I was glad to be the medical helper instead of the usual helpee. I quickly agreed to go with her.
“Well, Julie, I’ve taken a look at your images, as has the radiologist. It’s not (this awful disease) or (that nasty condition). We know more about what it’s not than what it is. No doubt you’re experiencing these symptoms, but science doesn’t allow us to add them up to any one identifiable finding at this point. In a nutshell, you’re weird.”
Again?? That’s it? So much for a second opinion. Maybe a third… Nooo, noooo, it’s bad enough hearing the same unofficially official diagnosis twice… Where exactly is “weird” in the medical dictionary, anyway??
“Weird” – twice in a matter of weeks? C’mon. A patient could get a complex.
Fed up, worn down, and burned out? You’re only weeks away from the antidote. Ok, maybe not the antidote, but a darn good start to feeling better soon. Watch for Kris Harty’s upcoming book, available late Fall. Think Chicken Soup for healthcare meets Bridget Jones’ Diary – where Bridget is the patient. Kris has been in the healthcare industry for 40 years, on the receiving end. Kris was diagnosed at age seven with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Her gratitude now inspires providers to keep going. Kris helps healthcare teams, and particularly nurses, combat Compassion Fatigue, while helping their managers reduce turnover. Her message is content-rich, practical, and engaging – and sporadically funny. She is a keynote speaker, author and small group facilitator. Kris Harty is the Stickabilities Specialist at Strong Spirit Unlimited. Clients say her message is life changing. Beat the rush: book now for 2011. Call 877.711.STICK, e-mail StrongSpirit@StrongSpiritUnlimited.com, or visit www.StrongSpiritUnlimited.com.
When I was a student nurse, a story was told about one of my classmates who went to get her patient ready for physical therapy. He had just had a stroke, and was not much help with the transfer. She had just gotten him into position and was about to call for assistance when the doctor came into the room. The MD asked what she was doing. She said she was getting the patient up for physical therapy.
“That’s strange,” the doctor said. “I was coming in to sign the death certificate!”
Contributed by Leslie Garfield, RN — Classic JNJ!
Ladies, you now what I’m talkin’ about.
Guys, sorry in advance.
Ah yes, the ol’ smasheroo time.
A routine check is not something to fear. It is something to procrastinate. No, no, it’s not. I didn’t say that. It’s something to loathe. No, it’s not really that bad.
It’s something to be resentful of having to do. Well, maybe, but not so much, really. Aren’t we lucky to live in an age when we have mammograms available to us? Yes, plain and simple. Hey, I got that one right.
Still, I dare ya. I dare you to pick up your programmed cel phone. It can probably call your doc’s office in an instant, yes?
Soooo, what are you waiting for? The kind schedulers at the other end of the line have been expecting your call. They have, haven’t they? This is long overdue, isn’t it? Huh? Huh? Go ahead, make their day. Three easy steps and you’ll be done for another while: Call. Schedule. Squish.
Everywhere we look this month we see pink ribbons. All the talk is about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s important. Pay attention.
When my friend Jeanine was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, it was devastating. A young wife and mom of three toddlers, the diagnosis came as a shock.
On her last day of chemo, another friend and I decided to make it special. Jennifer and I brought balloons and flowers to celebrate Jeanine’s chemo graduation. A little obnoxious and over the top at first, we quickly realized we needed to tone it down. Not everyone was lucky enough to feel as well as our dear, beautifully bald, celebrated friend.
Still, sitting with her during her last session was a special time for all of us. Never known as one who was ok with a fuss being made over her, Jeanine would say it’s no big deal. But it was a big deal. A very big deal indeed.
Having also gone through a double mastectomy and then reconstruction surgery, Jeanine finally heard the ultimate sentence said by her oncologist: “You are free of cancer.”
WOOO HOOOOO!! Yay! This was a big-deal-reason to celebrate.
Jeanine began planning her own party, The Big Reveal. As she said, she not only got rid of cancer, but she also gained two new attributes she never much had before, and she was going to show them off. She bought fun, girly, cleavage tops for the first time in life, in her mid 30s.
A sizable crowd of friends and family gathered downtown at a local pub. Clearly, we were celebrating something. Dollar bills made their way to Jeanine, amid hoots and hollers. Tables all around joined in the fun, asking, “By the way, what’re we celebrating?” Jeanine shared her good, no – excellent – news, and they’d holla all the louda. So would we.
The celebration lingered into late night. And in fact, it’s never really stopped.
So girls, go. Get squished.
Call. Schedule. Squish.
Stickability Specialist Kris Harty helps healthcare teams persevere through Compassion Fatigue. Kris is Chief Inspiration Officer of Strong Spirit Unlimited. By sharing Stickabilities, or tools, she learned from her own medically challenging life requiring a Walking Stick, Kris encourages healthcare professionals to Stick to it – no matter what! Diagnosed at age seven with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, she draws on 40 years of insight, research and stories as a healthcare recipient. She is the patient who now returns to say “You make a difference. Thank you.” Her message is content-rich, practical, engaging and inspiring – and sporadically funny. Kris reduces burnout, turnover, and Compassion Fatigue by re-engaging healthcare professionals, particularly nurses. Kris Harty is an inspirational keynote speaker, author and small group facilitator who helps people overcome challenges by creating unstoppable momentum in life and work. Clients say her message is life changing. Call 877.711.STICK, e-mail StrongSpirit@StrongSpiritUnlimited.com, or visit www.StrongSpiritUnlimited.com.
Dear Nurse Marge,
I’m not a nurse — yet. This spring, I’ll graduate, and then hopefully find a job. Still, I’ve been working really hard and trying to learn everything I can possibly learn in order to be a great nurse. So imagine how happy I was when I discovered my boyfriend’s mother is a nurse. After I got to know her, I asked her what the most important thing I should know about nursing.
She said “Always keep two spare sets of scrubs in your locker.”
That’s all she would tell me! I told my nursing instructor about it and she laughed and said that was good advice. But I kind of think she was making fun of me. What do you think?
Curious & Confused
Dear Curious & Confused,
That’s not only good advice, it’s GREAT advice. And if she tells you to keep another set in your trunk just in case, it might just mean you’ve made the cut as acceptable daughter-in-law material!