Surviving Hospitalisation: Think Small (3 of 7)

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Ameena Meer is a writer and single mother of three girls living in New York City, who runs her own advertising agency.  As a person who went through traditional cancer treatments for several months and was also hospitalized for other illnesses in the past, she thought it would be useful to create a guide to navigating the medical system when you’re stuck inside.  This is an excerpt from her blog www.amazonsofnyc.blogspot.com 

If you want real care, think small

ameena meer overcome choriocarcinoma
Look at it this way. McDonald’s, which successfully feeds millions of people everyday, does indeed have expertise in preparing food. However, its real area of expertise is quantity, consistency, making low-quality food taste good and in keeping profits high.

Now compare McDonald’s to your mother, who has learned how to make nutritious meals for 4 or 5 people every night for 30 to 40 years. In her case, her real area of food expertise will be about care, high quality ingredients and taste.

You can’t always count on the consistency, but it is outweighed by the hands-on mindfulness of someone who loves you dearly.

In other words, in my experience, if you want real care, the idea is to think small. Unless you are a wealthy, high-profile celebrity, you will not get special attention at a factory. Which is pretty much what a hospital is.

And, in many instances, even if you have special access, the doctors are taught to look after you the way one is taught to bake. It’s a formula. You follow certain actions in a particular sequence – like a recipe – and, assuming you followed the instructions correctly, you get certain reactions – like a golden brown cake.

Problems with the big hospitals’ approach

In my mind, there are two problems with the way some doctors practice, especially in areas that are systemic (as opposed to a cut that needs stitches or a broken bone that needs to be re-set). Please note that I don’t blame the doctors themselves as it is the insurance companies limit the amount of time they can spend with each patient and this crunched time limits them to thinking outside of the box.

1. One-size-fits-all: In the same way that our metabolism, blood pressure, weight, muscle mass differ, even in families, our bodies heal differently and absorb and activate medications differently and feel pain differently. Doctors do have a degree of leeway to experiment, but not much.

doctors may have a cookie cutter approach to treating patients
In large hospitals, you may receive a cookie-cutter kind of treatment

I was at a party some months’ ago. I found myself talking to a young doctor who worked for an HMO where he ended up treating a lot of Latin patients.

He said, “What people are talking about more and more are the differences in ethnicities and how they needed to be treated.” You already know that your ethnicity affects your hair and skin color and texture. Obviously, it affects how your internal organs operate as well.

2. Treating only one piece of the problem: So you can bake a perfect cake, but what about the frosting and the decoration and the rest of the party? The fact is our bodies are all connected, so what happens in your liver can affect your skin. It’s one of those things that they used to believe in ancient times.

For instance, women had their left nostril pierced originally because it was meant to make childbirth less painful . Sadly, I can’t tell you if it works because I didn’t pay attention when my nose was being pierced and got it on the right nostril instead. I am still wondering why the piercing woman didn’t ask why I wanted the wrong side until after the job was done.

When it’s time to check in

But let’s say it’s a day or two or a week later and you’ve done your research and you’ve decided you like and trust the doctor and you’re checking into the hospital.

Or let’s say it’s whenever the doctor tells you to come and your heart is in your throat and the research makes you even more scared and overwhelmed.

What you want to do is two things:

1.Ask a a friend to keep doing research on the protocol you are having to see if there are reasons to customize it for your body.

2. The hospital is a big place. You want to make it feel small and feel loved. It’s possible to do. It’s really hard when you feel horrid, but easier at other times.

Reflection

  • When you are a unique individual and the way cancer affects you is also different, then how do identical treatment for everyone, work? What if you can create a tailored and customised healing regime for YOU?
  • Cancer affects every aspect of your life. While medical treatments focus on the disease and the particular body part, what is the holistic approach that deals with the whole person?
  • How open are you to seeking out a cancer coach for help?

More from this series

Title About the article
Part 1 As a person who went through traditional cancer treatments for several months and was also hospitalized for other illnesses in the past, Ameena Meer thought it would be useful to create a guide to navigating the medical system when you’re stuck inside.
Part 2 I am not a doctor, but I want to offer people the basic stuff I’ve learned through years of experience as a successful patient.
Part 3 Unless you are a wealthy, high-profile celebrity, you will not get special attention at a factory. Which is pretty much what a hospital is.
Part 4 The idea is to turn your big, scary hospital into a small, loving place. You want to make it a place where they will really look after you. You can even become a cheer-leader for everyone else along the way.
Part 5 It’s still a hideous proposition if you must stay in hospital, but there are ways you can make it more bearable, maybe even pleasant. Sometimes it’s as easy as a list of things that you might bring, or have friends or relatives bring, that makes it feel more at-home.
Part 6 All this stuff may seem absurdly expensive given your circumstances, but I suggest you invest in it anyway. It makes you feel chic and aristocratic and helps you continue to behave in a dignified fashion. And in the end, it will be the way you treat the people who help you that will make all the difference.
Part 7 This is one tip that may not practically affect the tone of your stay, but it will ease your mind and help you feel like you are part of the process

 

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