Here are some results from our Club Members
Hear “I love you” from a parent for the first time in 60 years
Marianne still has a hard time believing it happened. Her 87-year-old father, like so many men of his generation, did not like to be told what to do. He never really listened to his wife and children in the past, and now he even resisted wearing his hearing aid. We suggested that if Marianne wanted her father to listen to her, she might start by listening to him. Since her father took great pride in his service during WWII, we suggested she ask her father to tell her those stories. She did! Her father described what it was like to be on the beaches of Normandy. Marianne says, “It was a good visit. My father walked me out to the car; for the first time in my life, he told me he loved me!”
Not feel so alone
Susan missed her friends. She rarely left the house as her mother’s dementia progressed; it was no longer safe to leave her mother alone. Her mother rejected one in-home worker after another. That became a moot point; Susan could no longer comfortably afford the respite care. She acted on a newsletter idea and did some bartering with her elderly neighbor. The neighbor came over once a week and played cards with Susan’s mother while Susan went out with her friends; in return Susan took care of her neighbor’s lawn. Susan felt much better reconnecting with important people. She realized that even though she did not have family in town, there were other people in her community who could help her. She wasn’t doing this all alone.
Do the right things, even when it rocks the boat
Renee needed some time to herself, but her father got very grumpy every time she left the house. After participating in a teleseminar she said, “In the ideal world my father would say, ‘You work hard and deserve a break. Go and have a good time!’ I laughed thinking about this fantasy; it will never happen.” Renee knew she would be a better caregiver if she took care of herself. She gave herself permission to resume her weekly trip to the movies, and discovered she could tolerate her father’s disapproval.
Say, “I’m doing an okay job.”
Kim regularly went to bed thinking that she was falling short in her commitment to caring for her husband during his cancer treatment. After all, she thought, the tumors weren’t shrinking. Kim embraced the Caregiver Club idea that she could measure her caregiver success by something other than the x-ray results or whether her husband had a good day or whether she felt angry. She made a list: Did her husband get his meds that day? Did she offer him good nutrition? Did she and her husband go on a walk, even if it was just to the mailbox? Did she tell her husband how much she loved him and spend five minutes really listening to him? Did she forgive herself for the mistake she made yesterday? As she reviewed the list each day, she saw her confidence in her caregiving grow.
Get siblings to pitch in with parents’ care
Rachael was one of four kids who assumed 100% responsibility for her parents’ care. With our coaching she sent her siblings an email stating that all four of the kids were responsible for their parents’ care; she asked them to think about how each would contribute, and provided a list of tasks. Just as she expected, her brother and sisters stepped up and pitched in.
Connect with other caregivers
Robin says, “Sometimes, especially about at 2:00 AM I feel like I’m all alone doing a huge job. It’s great to be able to hear that other people have the exact problems that I do on the community boards. I’ve gotten some terrific ideas from people who have walked in my shoes.”
Say, “I’m treating myself with more compassion.”
Ben says some days he felt like a monster. How else could he explain his anger at his wife after the doctor diagnosed her MS? He and his wife had planned for an early retirement; however with his wife’s income, Ben will be working much longer than he expected. What kind of person is mad at someone for getting sick? Ben heard Dr. Rackner speak and learned that anger is a normal caregiver response. He treated himself with more compassion when he learned to say that he was mad at the injustice of this illness.
Persuade a friend to accept support
Jill was shocked to learn that her friend Tanya’s husband had a rapidly progressing illness. Tanya was the person who always took care of other people. With our coaching Jill told Tanya, “You know how good you feel when you helped me out? You would be giving me a gift by accepting my help.” It worked!
Cut spending on prescription drugs
John buys his father’s prescription medication expense–all twelve (!) of them. He’s looking for ways to cut spending, so he acted on our advice, and undertook a “Medication Makeover.” He and his father made the recommended doctor appointment to review the medication list. That 20 minute visit cut his medication spending by a third. Plus, he persuaded his father to try generics for the first time. John cut his spending in half.
Avoid unnecessary medical tests
Beth followed through on the recommendation to collect her husband’s medical records and organized them in the Personal Health Journal her employer gave her. Because she brought the medical records with her to the appointment, the specialist saw that the test she was about to order had already been performed, though identified with a different name. The availability of the medical records averted the cost and risk of repeated testing.
Avoid unnecessary surgical procedures
Mario acted on the advice he read in the newsletter about second medical opinions when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. As we suggested, he got a second opinions on the pathology slides and x-rays as well as the surgical plan. The second pathologist who reviewed the slides said his mother did not have cancer after all. A third pathologist agreed. Her mother avoided an unnecessary operation.
Increase productivity at work
Dwayne spent hours of his work week speaking with his sick mother’s five doctors who each seemed unaware of the plans of the others. He heard Dr. Rackner on the radio talk about the importance of a “quarterback doctor” who coordinates the health care team. He and his mother asked the doctor they liked best to take on this role. She agreed, even though she was not the patient’s primary care doctor. Dwayne only had to call one doctor instead of five to advocate for his mother’s medical needs, dramatically enhancing both his hours of productivity and his work focus.
Listen to your hunches and ask the right questions to get the right answer
Jenifer was frustrated because the doctors could not identify the nature of her high school daughter’s mystery illness. Most doctors said there was nothing wrong. One doctor even said the daughter’s problem was in her head and referred her to a psychiatrist. Through coaching sessions, Jenifer organized a timeline of the specific symptoms, and created a list of questions. Jenifer learned what to say and how to say it so the doctor would listen. Three years after the first symptoms began, a doctor finally diagnosed Jenifer’s daughter with lupus.
Work with the right doctor
Elvie did careful research before choosing a pediatrician. While she was confident in the doctor’s skill and judgment, they never clicked. After considering our idea presented in a talk that the partnership with a doctor is like a “medical marriage,” she decided she had chosen the wrong partner. She switched to another pediatrician in the same group. She’s delighted with the care she and her daughter are getting.
Move forward in the face of fear
Andrea had an AHA moment when reading our article posing the idea that childhood medical experiences shape health related choices. Her husband kept putting off his needed knee operation that would let him get back on the tennis court. She wasn’t making progress with her pestering. When she asked him about whether he had any bad childhood experiences with the doctor, he suddenly spilled the story of “being choked in the doctor’s office” as a child. He told his wife he never wanted that choking feeling again, and he was very concerned about the breathing tube. Andrea told him that her co-worker had the same operation and there was no breathing tube; she had a spinal. Several days later her husband scheduled the operation.
Get the desired medical outcome
Kyle and his mother and the doctor had been dealing with his mother’s cough. After many tests, the doctor said, “We have ruled out the life-threatening causes for the cough. There’s nothing wrong. You should be happy; I have patients with really serious conditions.” However, his mother stopped going on her outings because the cough embarrassed her. Kyle wanted his mother could get back to her routine. When he asked his mother’s doctor for a referral to a specialist, he said, “That won’t be necessary. This cough is no big deal. Kyle responded, “My mother has had season tickets to the symphony for forty years. The cough is a big deal to HER because it keeps her away from symphony hall.” The allergist to whom they were referred prescribed a new medication. A week later the cough was gone.
Let your intuition guide you to the diagnosis
A 22-year-old woman was glad she took our advice to listen to her intuition. She was very concerned when she found a new breast mass. The doctor told her that she was too young to have breast cancer, and too young to get the mammogram she requested. She just assumed the doctor knew more than she did. However, her nagging concern persisted. At our urging she went to see another doctor, and unfortunately, the mammogram showed she did, in fact, have breast cancer.
Avoid being a victim of medical errors
James suggested a little piece of advice from The Caregiver Club may have saved his mother’s life. As suggested, he asked the nurse what medication she was offering his hospitalized mother and what it was for. He asked the nurse to double-check because the medication treated symptoms his mother did not have. Sure enough, the medication was intended for the roommate.
Freedom from worry and fear
Betsy once read that weight loss is a sign of cancer, so that’s the first thing she suspected as her clothes started getting baggier. The doctor told Betsy her unintended weight loss was caused by her over-active thyroid. Still, he never specifically told her she didn’t have cancer. At Dr. Rackner’s advice, Betsy asked the doctor, “Could this be cancer?” The doctor offered the top three reasons he did not think she had cancer. This helped her sleep better.
Know that no news might not be good news
Rebecca read an article suggesting the risks of the “no news is good news” method of getting medical test results. She called her doctor to get the results of her urine test, and it was not normal as she assumed. The specimen had never been sent to the lab.
Get your results your way
Gary was empowered with our idea that he could ask the doctor to give him the test results over the phone instead of in person. That gave him time to do some research so he could ask good questions.