Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Three Story Life: Medical Advocate

Nice doesn't get a damn thing done. Civil is good. My mantra these days is "I don't have to get mad, I just have to get what I need done." As caregivers, especially as live-in caregivers, we know the level of need. We know it like we know how high our blood pressure is, but we do something about other people before we do anything about us. That's for another post. Dad's blood pressure is really high. He has a medication in the cupboard that was prescribed by his VA doctor. He got confused and stopped taking it in December. December. His BP is dangerously spiky. He calls in his BP to their "blood pressure monitoring" answering machine. and Nurse Kelly will call and ask "why is your blood pressure so high?" to which I want to reply, well, never mind. Nurse Kelly told him to hold off taking the medication prescribed by his doctor until the results of his vascular tests are in. Ridiculous, but he waited. The results are in. But my father misunderstands what he's told, too. I told him to call the doctor. She's not in. Leave a message. A message just goes into a message center. Yes, that's where messages go. Leave a message for the doctor. He called Nurse Kelly. I used his phone to call VA Doctor. Message person asked if he's reporting to that monitoring bullshit. Yes. They will call, message person said. No, I said, I want to talk with VA Doctor. Okay. I'll leave a message for her team. No, a message for VA Doctor to call. No response. Please repeat the message as you entered it, back to me, I said. Think dog/bone. Think tick/ankle. Think clearly about what you need, and then insist the entity at the other end of an exchange repeats back to you what you want. Be clear. Be specific. Use short sentences. One word responses. If you need to write it down first, do so. And repeat what you need until the other party agrees you need it. Every office you call has a Flat Alice who is the front person supposed to move you away ASAP. It's your decision whether a doctor needs to be bothered, not the gatekeeper. No one bars the door for me any more in medical situations. Use please the first time, but not onward as the conversation ages. Say thank you, only after you are sure you were understood. Nice doesn't get a damn thing done. Civil insistence does.