• Terri Tomoff

Advocy Dusted Off

The song, Unwritten, by Natasha Bedingfield, rarely leaves my head, mainly when I write or have an excellent thought to write about (I try every day!). Due to a doctor’s appointment with my son, Ryan, this morning, true patient advocacy and all its glory had to be dusted off, utilized, and shared to hopefully help someone else in a similar situation.


Take, for example, the advocacy I wrote about in The Focused Fight. I wrote about a few incidences but did not include all the stories I could have in the book. I did mention something along the lines that advocacy never quits, even after the book is published or the song is written.


As patient or patient advocates, we must be “on” when in an appointment—listening intently to what the doctor or health care professional is saying, describing, or prescribing. Meeting a new doctor ups the ante, and sharing an extended (or even a short) medical journey can help health management more than you realize, and it could be the difference between life and death.


This morning, Ryan met his new-to-him cardiologist, Dr. G. As with any new patient in an established practice, Ryan’s demographic information was taken, patient documents were signed, and after 15 minutes, we were ushered back into a little exam room complete with a portable EKG machine.


After a few minutes, a technician arrived to begin Ryan’s appointment. The first thing administered was the EKG. An easy peasy five minutes (longer to hook up than the testing), and thank goodness the report spit out: Normal!


Alleluia for this piece of great news!


The tech then spent several minutes unhooking Ryan’s white plastic-looking spaghetti tubes and detangling all of them attached to Ryan’s body. Once the machine was packed up and ready to be wheeled to another exam room, the tech pulled over the rolling blood pressure machine for task number two.


Ryan, polite as ever, never said a word to the tech who began placing the BP cuff on his left arm. That is a BIG NO-NO! I wish I had a big ole’ button that flashed red with an obnoxious beep, beep, BEEP to stop the tech in his tracks. Or, Ryan could have advocated (nicely) that he can only have his BP taken on his right arm or either leg if need be due to extensive surgeries on his left side (muscles and veins removed).


While watching the scenario play out, the mama bear rose up and out of me before the cuff was tightly secured around Ryan’s left arm. I took a big cleansing breath. I worked on this advocacy piece to be as thoughtful as possible by practicing the art of correcting someone without embarrassing them or telling them of their grave mistake. I did not want to push the shame button, but I needed to keep my son safe, period.


I calmly suggested that it would be best if Ryan’s blood pressure was taken on his right arm. If the doc wanted it done on both arms, we would all have a discussion beforehand. I did not think the left arm pressure was needed, which is precisely what happened.


Sometimes we get lulled into thinking the professional in the exam room may have the best answer. But we know our bodies, and if there is an extensive medical history or not, we know our bodies best. This tech had never met Ryan before, and I can guarantee that he had never read the chart to know about Ryan’s extensive health status and deducting that a blood pressure cuff should only be used on his right arm. That tidbit of info should/could come from the patient or loved one—advocacy.


Assisting the medical team is up to the patient, parent/loved one/caregiver. Even the simple thing as a blood pressure cuff can help with advocating the correct measures to keep a patient safe.


We need to hold our space.


On our way out, I gently reminded Ryan that he has every right to speak up on his behalf to assist either a nurse, tech, or board-certified doctor regarding his health and well-being. He smiled back at me and shook his head in the affirmative. By golly, I think he’s got this!


bSoleille!

Terri


Photo credit: Unsplash - Hush Naidoo Jade Photography




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