Tag

health partners Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Danny van Leeuwen Health Hats

I Wasn’t Born with a Tattoo, Telling Me How Long I Have to Live

By | Advocate, Caregiver, Clinician, ePatient, Family man, Leader | 9 Comments

10p New Year’s night 2002: Mike called me. I’m numb on my right side. My heart screamed. My boy had a stage 4 melano2012-05-17-mike-porchma removed from his neck a year ago followed by lymph node removal and a course of Interferon. Go to the Emergency Department. The next day a metastasized brain tumor the size of a grape was removed. Soon he had a lung tumor the size of an orange removed. He called them Terrence (the brain tumor) and Caesar (the lung tumor). Once sufficiently recovered from the surgeries, he began treatment at the cancer center close to his college home. A team of me, my wife and the parents of his girlfriend (who lived near their college home) alternated accompanying Mike on his visits to the cancer center. Mike never felt that he had the information he needed.  They wouldn’t talk prognosis: Am I going to die?  They didn’t explain uncertainty: What does 5% chance of anything mean? I’m 26! They seemed to speak to us more than him. After a particularly frustrating session with the oncologist, I asked him if I could arranged a consultation in the cancer center near us. He agreed. I did. What a difference. Mike immediately bonded with the radiation oncologist. Let me speak with Mike alone. After an hour, Mike came out. I’m probably going to die, but there’s stuff we can try. Oh well, I wasn’t born with a tattoo on my ass telling me how long I had to live. He died November 18th, 2002. Read More

Cuz I’m the Dad! That’s Why

By | Advocate, ePatient, Leader | One Comment

scoldingI wish my partner would carry his load. How do I get my kid to clean his room? She never cooks! How do I get her to talk to me? People in relationships complain and scold – expecting the other person to change and do whatever. Makes me cranky. Relationships are a two-way street in a setting with values, habits, and pressures. My kids once gave me a button for my hat: Cuz I’m the Dad. That’s Why! I have been resoundingly unsuccessful over 60+ years getting someone else to change at pretty much anything. Read More

Alone

By | Advocate, Caregiver, ePatient, Family man | No Comments

I first thought about care partners 20 some years ago when my oldest son invited me to spend a few hours with his team heading to Zimbabwe for development aid work. “Talk to us about health, Pop.  What do we need to know?” I remember telling them “keep it zipped up” and “buddy up with a health partner. The health partner commits to sticking with you if you get sick, come hell or high water. Let’s buddy up now”   Six months later, my wife and I received a letter (before email) from Zimbabwe after we hadn’t heard from our son in 2 months. She wrote, “I am your son’s health partner.  He’s OK. He got malaria and just got out of the hospital. I wanted to let you know”

Today, as I advocate for care partners, I wonder,  “What if my son hadn’t had a health partner?” What happens to all these people who don’t have care partners? They are alone.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 – For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls, and doesn’t have another to lift him up.

This week, Keren Landin, a scientist at Tuft’s, opened my eyes to social networks. Read this book, Connected, by her mentor or watch this YouTube TED Talk. The good news: almost everyone is connected to someone.  Key words: almost and someone. To me that means there are still those with no one and sometimes someone doesn’t include a caregiver or care partner. Read More

Travel Companion

Guests on People’s Health Journeys

By | Advocate, Caregiver, Clinician, ePatient, Family man, Leader | One Comment

As I learn more about and am sought out more as an expert in patient engagement, empowerment, and activation, I struggle to respond to the health-system centric definitions given by people thinking they are patient-centric or want to become patient centric. Stuff like, ‘How do we make patients feel like they were included in decision-making.  I say, “wait a minute, think of it as if you were the guest in patients’ health care journeys.”

I first thought about being the guest in someone’s health care journey 25 years ago when I worked with my sister-in-law, Peggy Boland, a staff nurse in an Intensive Care Unit in Cobleskill, NY. She inspired and taught me much. She would knock on the doorway and ask if she could come in, even if the patient was unconscious. She’s say, “I’m going to turn you now. Ok with you?” She’d greet every person who came into a space she was in. She respected thresholds and personal space.  A very busy person, caring for many people, she’d ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?” and do it or say, “I’ll be back in x minutes and do that.” She always made it her business to know family members and find out who would be the care partner in the ICU and at home. She included them in all activities, teaching how to help move, feed, and toilet the patient. “It’s good for you to know this, it’ll be easier than this when you get home, but harder than before you came in. Any questions?” She was proactively curious and helpful. She explained and taught all the time. At the beginning of each shift Peggy would meet with the patient and care partner, “Here’s what I have on my list to accomplish today. What’s on your list?” Then, “Ok, let’s do this, at that time.” Collaborative care planning. Read More

Belonging – a matter of perception

By | Caregiver, Consumer, ePatient, Family man | One Comment
During the inevitable ups and downs of life, I feel better when I belong. The pointy end of illness, loss, unintended change, stress, can be softened by belonging. Belonging to a family, team, community. What is this feeling of belonging? Being with family, comrades, teammates, cronies, neighbors. My wife and I are visiting old friends.  Old friends know the good, the bad,and the ugly and still like you and want to be with you. They have been with you through it all. Hence, old friends. Our neighbors look out for us, they have our back, literally. We belong. Belonging fuels a positive narrative that empowers me. I can take risks, I can survive mistakes, I can recover, I can feel better, I can find some peace when I belong.
Belonging feeds itself. To belong, I need to be a family member, a teammate, a neighbor. It’s an investment with some risk and some return. Belonging has an open heart. Paradoxically, an open heart is risky with the possibility of huge return and huge hurt. Yet a better risk than Powerball.  Turning a negative narrative into a positive narrative increases belonging – it’s a superpower. It’s a matter of perception. It’s a magic lever of best health.

Children of the Sun, Earth, and Moon

By | ePatient, Family man | 2 Comments

 

Aristophanes tells a creation myth that places humans of all three genders (androgynous, male, and female) in a primeval state of eternal bliss. However, we grew insolent in our blissful state and refused to properly honor the gods (and even tried to pursue them in their mountainous home). As punishment, we were split in two. Those with a “male” nature (the Children of the Sun) became homosexual men; those with a “female” nature (the Children of the Earth) became Lesbians; and the androgynes (Children of the Moon) became heterosexuals. Navels are the souvenirs of the operation we all went through in being divided from our beloved other half. The myth warns humanity to be careful in always honoring the gods (especially Eros) or we will be hewn in two once more, leaving us to hop around on just one leg. Part of properly honoring Eros is to search for and find our lost half, to be restored to our natural state of bliss. (Thanks to Josh for pointing me here).

My cousin, a Child of the Earth, married her partner of 16 years yesterday. Celebrating were children of earth, moon, and sun. Open, legal, honored. My dad was a Child of the Sun, in the closet to his death 42 years ago. He was present through me, having a blast – and honored.

Who’s your health co-pilot?

By | Advocate, Caregiver, Consumer, ePatient, Family man | No Comments
As an e-patient advocate, I passionately believe in each of us being the pilot for our own health flight. So many legs in that health flight. While its a non stop flight for each of us from birth to death, it’s actually a journey with innumerable hops. As I re-enter my own health journey with energy now for others’ journeys, I’m struck by the shifting prominence of health team members. Sometimes we need a health team member to be our co-pilot, someone to take the wheel, read the map, or pave the way. A friend this week had an unwelcome and unusual constellation of symptoms – disconcerting, disruptive, freaky. This friend needs a co-pilot – a doctor to advise, diagnose, refer, integrate results. I had sudden acute abdominal pain.  I also needed a co-pilot. As my mom was dying we needed several co-pilots: a hospice nurse to manage symptoms and equipment; a friend to manage logistics of care; and a mid-wife of dying to manage personal care and spiritual needs. Another friend is trying to lose weight. His co-pilot is a trainer. Ultimately, you can’t always be a solo pilot. Recognizing the need for a co-pilot, finding one, and trusting her/him is a magic lever of best health.

Leadership in Family Health Crises

By | Advocate, Caregiver, Clinician, Consumer, ePatient, Family man, Leader | No Comments
Sudden, severe illness or protracted undefined illness likely causes a family health crisis. Families in health crisis start from a position of acute stress yet have much to do. For a frame. consider that physical health starts with spiritual health, then mental, then physical.  For the family spirit is morale, mission, purpose, direction. Mental health is leadership. Often a family in crisis operates in survival mode and lacks spirit and purpose. Family success in managing the health crisis depends on leadership working to improve spirit, defining and clarifying purpose, and aligning direction.  The challenge multiplies when the family member with sudden or undefined illness has a family leadership role. Families in health crisis need support from their health team and community to supply a temporary exoskeleton of leadership – acting as a guide on a path out of crisis, finding and advocating for resources, providing kindness, listening, and caring. Do you think your team or your community does or could support your family when in crisis? Health crises are guaranteed to happen if you live long enough. If you are a health team member or provider, do you or your team know how to assess the leadership needs of the people at the center of the crisis? Do you have a crisis plan that can be put in place to act as temporary family leaders or to support those stepping up as temporary family leaders?  Families and their health teams need crisis plans.

Should you bring someone with you to your next doctor’s appointment?

By | Advocate, Caregiver, Consumer, ePatient | No Comments
Should you bring someone with you to your next doctor’s appointment? If you’re asking, the answer is yes.  

How do you be the best companion if you’re asked? Prep in advance, listen, record, ask questions. Know why you’re going? That means both What does the person want to accomplish during the appointment? and Why are you accompanying them? There are many types of visits.  Here are 4:
  1. Routine physical 
  2. New acute issue
  3. Follow-up for an acute issue
  4. Follow-up for a chronic condition
Prep in advance for all of them if you can. Bring or make lists:
  • Current meds – prescribed by anyone plus any not prescribed (over-the-counter). Note if they’re taken as prescribed, any questions about the meds, any effects that cause notice. If you can, bring the medications in their containers, just in case.
  • All members of the health team: medical and non-medical.
  • Anything medical or health that has occurred since the last visit with this clinic or clinician.
  • Questions that come up in prep
During any visit, listen and record. This is active listening-make sure you understand. Repeat back what you hear. Fill in blanks of information if you can. Ask if you can record the session.  Use your phone to tape if you have one or bring a tape machine. Ask the person with the appointment if they understand and if they have any questions. Ask for a copy of the clinician’s notes.  If someone brings up HIPAA as a reason not share information, they have it backwards. HIPAA mandates the sharing of health information with the person with the appointment.
As soon after the appointment as you can, go over what happened and what you both learned. Memory of lots of details can fade quickly in the best of circumstances.
Going to the doctors with someone is a gift.

Belonging to your health team

By | Advocate, Caregiver, Clinician, Consumer, ePatient | One Comment
Belonging to your health team. Seems oxymoronic. Of course you belong to your health team. There is no health team without you. Yet sometimes people feel out of control, not accepted by their team. Maybe it’s because it’s not their team. Professionals and caregivers sometimes act as if or really feel that they are the team, separate from the people they serve. Today I received an e-mail report from a friend describing the meetings of the team caring for her husband with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The hope, the optimism, the details of how to manage, the welcoming, warmed my heart. The key is the welcoming across a threshold. Before the professionals weren’t part of their team. After they were. Just like that. Same day, I received an email describing the separation, frustration, lack of communication, of a friend caring for her husband who had surgery. Although the outcome was good – successful surgery – she seemed glad to be away from those professionals. They were never part of the team. How do we as ePatients welcome professionals onto our team?  How do professionals acknowledge that they have joined ePatients’ teams?