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Nanahood: Being in charge of our own healthcare

By Teresa Bell Kindred

Years ago my grandmother had a stroke and was hospitalized. The doctors and nurses took good care of her but it didn't take me long to notice that there were so many elderly people who had no one to help them. There was no one there when the doctor came by and checked them. No one to ask questions and often the elderly are unable to take charge of their own medical care.

I was reminded of this yesterday when my cousin called. Not because she's elderly, she's not. She's my age, 54. But because of what happened to her.

Because she is a breast cancer survivor she had a 'routine' blood test at the oncologists' office two months ago. When she didn't hear anything, and called the office two weeks later to inquire about the test, she was told that they were okay. Last week doctors discovered a mass in her liver and she's been having tests every day since then.

Yesterday she remembered her earlier blood tests from the oncologist and asked for the results to be faxed so she could see them. All the numbers were in the normal range EXCEPT for three numbers off to the right under abnormal. All three of those numbers had to do with liver function.

My cousin spoke with a friend who is a doctor and asked if those numbers should have been a red flag. The reply was, "Just one of those number should have been a red flag for someone who has had cancer."

What happened? Why didn't she get the correct information when she asked for it? We may never know for sure but one thing we do know.

"WE have to take charge of our own care. We can't leave any of it to someone who doesn't know or care about us personally!" said Martha.

And she's right.

Today I'm giving thanks for health care professionals who do their job carefully and with kindness, treating their patients as if they were family. I know there are many wonderful folks who do this because I've met them. Keep on doing what you do! People's lives depend on you!

This story was posted on 2010-10-31 19:53:07
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