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Need solutions for the medication, medical appliances and/or medical travel that you can't afford? READ EMPOWER Yourself.

A Health Information Management professional, I survived a life-threatening emergency with information that only a person of my professional experience would know. And I’m sharing it!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Make Holiday Season Happier and Healthier in One Click!


26 Kislev, 5777

If you want to make holiday season happier and healthier for someone, give them a book that a Methodist minister, rabbi, medical and mental health practitioners recommend:

There's a reason that it's been in the #1 or @2 spot at the Recommended Reading spot of the Musella Foundation site almost since the first edition came out!

Need to give your gift super-fast? Choose the E-book for immediate delivery.

Buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge

Here's an excerpt of the soothing text that helps you to rank priorities and to find solutions to many kinds of problems:

Listen to the Person Before You - Lessons for Caregivers

I'm going to address a troubling problem for ill people: rude and cruel caregivers who pay little, if any, attention to the patient’s remarks. I've witnessed this maddening glitch first-hand as a witness to, and as the victim of, someone's failure to listen.

Many caregivers insist that they are noble, correct and in charge when caring for patients be they friends, relatives or clients. HOWEVER... here's how the conversations between some caregivers and the people they're allegedly caring for tend to go (fill in the blanks as appropriate.):

"I know what you need..."

"I want to..."

"Stop talking. Listen to me; I know what's best for you..."

"I'm going to... Now just stop that and let me..."

"I don't want to hear you say 'I can't.' Would you just let me...?"

Did you hear the sick person above the din? Me neither. And far too often that silence leads to a deteriorating patient who's already ill, and an increasingly strained relationship.

The name of the problem is "Inflated Ego." Or what is sometimes called "I Disease." The caregiver is bossing around the ill person, issuing this barrage of "I, I, I, I," messages while genuine medical needs go unmet. This is not a healthy situation. So, I'm providing a reality alert: The caregiver is NOT the most important person in this scene. The patient is the VIP (Very Important Person) here!

Here's the information that's being drowned out, along with the despairing person who needs medical help:

"That's the wrong medication/food you're giving me."

"You're hurting me when you move me around so hard. I'm not a rock."

"You're still holding the wrong medication/food."

"The doctor said not to do it like that. You're supposed to read the directions."

"You bet I'm upset! Please stop talking/shouting/screaming over me and listen. Just listen!"


Ready to close your mouths and find out how to solve the problem? Great! Hold that pose while the ill person in your care expresses their concerns. Next, wait for him or her to ask you to explain what you heard and understood. Only then may you speak. Get it? Conversation is an interactive activity.

When you enter the ill person's room, do not start talking. Smile. Observe the scene: does the ill person seem tired/rested/content/upset/warm/cold/in or out of pain?

Ask the patient these questions, one at a time: "How are you?" and "Did anything change since we last spoke?" "Please tell me if you want something." Then LISTEN without interrupting as the person responds to you, one question at a time.

Do not treat sick people as fools. Do not threaten them. Do not speak in a condescending manner to people who are sick. You might be dealing with neurological or physiological changes that the patient(s) cannot control. This is not a matter of patient willpower, this is a medical reality. You might not realize the level of physical or emotional pain you're unnecessarily causing to that person. You just might damage someone's already fragile health by using the wrong medicine, medical appliance or food item, let alone the wrong attitude.

Ordering ill people to "Snap out of it! Stop acting sad and sick" is cruel. Behave respectfully or have someone else perform the personal care. Your change in behavior just might improve someone's quality of life. Prevent unwarranted suffering. Remember: communication is supposed to be fair and productive. Good communication ends in relief.

One more item on this sensitive subject: study the sick person's behavior and body when hired help is providing medical care. Elder abuse and other abuses in the medical world exist. Prevent and end them by practicing good sense. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart.

Here’s a handy list of caregiver tips, developed from my personal experience and that of some of my Self-Help Coaching clients:
·         Make a chart of all medications used by the loved one you’re helping. Tactfully help him or her to remember to take those medicines.
·         Ask everyone who enters the patient’s room if they have washed their hands. "No" and silence are NOT acceptable responses.
·         Ask nurses to read drug orders out loud and match them to the patient’s arm bracelet BEFORE giving something to the patient.
·         Bring easily portable stuff on visits: a deck of cards, iPODs or other devices for playing music, or something else that the patient enjoys. Coax the patient to use his or her brain.
·         Keep a little notebook with your observations so you can discuss your concerns with medical staff, family and friends in a productive NOT GOSSIPY manner. Write the notes discreetly. Trust me, sick people notice things. And we tend to be easily upset.
·         NEVER give a patient medication without proper supervision.
·         Don’t help the patient in and out of bed unless the medical staff trained you to do this safely.
·         Help the sick person to escape the confines of being ill. A car ride, a day in the park or gentle beach, perhaps a shopping center with comfortable seating areas, a family event, are just some ideas for trips. Cabin fever can slow down recovery and coping processes. Changes in scenery can work wonders.
·         Cheerfully help with housework: cooking, cleaning, child care, lawn care, etc. Find out if meals can be safely made by other people.
·         Allow the person to speak about their medical/emotional crisis. The release leads to perspective, emotional relief and healing. In mental circles, this is called "venting" and wow it’s a great help!
·         Chat with the patient about life. Your work, news headlines, funny incidents, something other than illness.
·         Forgive the person for saying or doing something unusual. Some medications affect behavior and memory, let alone body functions. Thinking clearly might be a struggle for someone coming out of anesthesia or taking medications. The challenging medical situation is a hard thing to manage on its own.
·         Bite your lips! Don’t focus on what your loved one can or cannot do. Infantilizing a person facing a medical or emotional crisis is cruel and harmful. DO FOCUS on what the person can do and intends to do. Meeting goals, and trying to do so, is strengthening in many ways.
·         Assist the person in your care when they’re taking medication. Wipe lips as necessary, and with a gentle touch. Remember also, that eyesight might be affected. He or she I might not be able to read the small print on the bottle.
·         Be gracious about sleeping problems. A person facing illness could have difficulty sleeping. Gently and firmly explore what will help the person to relax, to enjoy restful, restorative sleep.
·         Empower the patient. Let him or her make choices, use the television remote and anything else they’d like to do within reason. Offer to help the person to create a list of goals on a paper or a poster-board they can more easily read. Check off accomplishments and celebrate them.
·         Have patience. Be respectful. Know that you cannot possibly understand the illness experience from the patient’s perspective. Some things are hard to convey. Practice a compassionate pose on your facial muscles. Use it often.

While we're on the topic of patience and perspective, consider this: One of the worrisome - and dangerous - problems for people with cancer is loss of appetite from chemotherapy (sometimes referred to as Cancer Anorexia). That causes an ever-lowering calorie count. Not a good side-effect!

Cancer upsets metabolism. Chemotherapy traumatizes the human body, creating the need for superb nutrition. Side-effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and physical weakness from chemotherapy make food most unappetizing. Both problems combined mean the affected person keeps losing weight, mostly from muscle loss.

A delightful solution to the problems is to put some thought, family and friendship energy into preparing highly nutritious and visually appealing meals for a person with cancer.  Imagine the good that can do for someone who desperately needs body-building food.

The need for nutrition is true for any seriously ill person, no matter who is facing a medical crisis or why. Look at the situation from the situation of a sick child, elderly person, or anyone who's ill and their worldview. Do they lack teeth? Do they have mouth sores that will be further irritated by food and hot or cold temperatures? Is the person's gag reflex going to be problematic?

Scolding is NOT appropriate. Making fun of the person refusing or unable to eat is cruel, not helpful. Neither are guilt trips. Cook up a meal and a plan to get the suffering person to eat it. Focus on pleasure, soothing results, and compassion.

Find solutions. Use blenders to create smooth, easily swallowed textures. Straws make food fun for little ones sipping blended food with soup or water added to it. Warmish gello is a quick picker-upper for someone trying to build strength to swallow more nutritious fare (it also soothes sore throats). Use towels as bibs for larger diners who spill food despite their best efforts to be neat. DO NOT COMPLAIN about the laundry this will cause. Here's a nice dessert for everyone involved: by helping the ill person to eat better, you'll feel better for expressing a level of kindness unparalleled in the medical world.

While we're on the topic of good manners, here's the skinny on Wheelchair Etiquette 101:

People who use wheelchairs don’t do that for your convenience. Think of it this way: the wheelchair is similar to an arm, leg or any other necessary body part for the person sitting in one. A wheelchair is literally the extension of a person's body, not a toy or handy-dandy catch-all.

You don't smear fingerprints on someone's glasses, do you? Try out their hearing aids? Of course not; that's crossing personal boundaries. When you fail to heed the personal boundaries that wheelchairs represent, you make people uncomfortable...

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism.

Fill your shopping list with things that people appreciate!

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