What patients need to know….


photo by daughter Susan

Attention Medical pros: What patients need to know….

I should be getting a new hip this month. I’m better prepared than I was six years ago when I had a knee replaced. My lack of knowledge then led to a disaster of an experience. After that debacle, I declared it would be over my dead body I’d ever go through something like that again.

The medical profession sees gray hair and presumes you’ve had numerous hospitalizations and surgeries, and taken dozens of medications and you know all there is to know about hospital procedures and what your rights are and what is usually done. I hadn’t — and didn’t know a thing.

When did you last visit your doctor?

Vital information was not passed on

I had the audacity to presume that questions I answered recorded by a young doctor in my surgeon’s office would be passed on to the necessary recipients of such vital information — like my allergy to sulphites. It wasn’t. My surgeon promised he would not allow me to be sent home, where I’d be on my own, because of my vestibular disorder. The nurse in charge said ‘He has no say in the matter.’ I was discharged. I came down with a severe, long siege of dizziness and nausea the very next day. It was horrible.

Never having been hospitalized in Canada for more than one night, I didn’t even know I had a menu choice for meals, terrible as they are reputed to be. No one told me. I was served rice every day for five days.

Old lady in hospital

Rice every day? Not a happy camper.

I like to learn all I can, and had gladly attended information sessions regarding living with arthritis at the hospital. We were advised to use Tylenol for pain, so I did, but had no idea special Tylenol for arthritis, (stronger dose) existed until a friend told me about it some years later. Why didn’t they tell us while they were at it?

funny nurse

Your surgeon has no say in the matter

I’m not a shopper. I have little patience in stores. I just head to what I want and buy it. Not for me the wandering up and down aisles to see whats on the shelves. I’ve got things that interest me more to do with my time.

I’m writing about this now with the hope some medical professionals will read it and realize that not every gray-haired old woman has had major surgery before, or knows about hospital procedures and medications.

I hope I’m better prepared this time. Wish me luck.


12 thoughts on “What patients need to know….

  1. I would think people with grey hair are decidedly Unlikely to have had a lot of experience with medical procedures, especially since many of us grew up with little or no medical care from professionals.

  2. Right on, Sistah! If I hear the “as you grow older” speech one more time, I will scream. Not kidding. Actually scream. Young medical professionals, as is typical of young people in general, assume that we are in death’s waiting room and might as well live for the short time left with ______ (fill in the blank with the current ailment.) There has been medical research showing that older adults have difficulty hearing what girls and young women say because their voices are fast and high-pitched. Yes, we literally can say to them: I can’t HEAR you! But the same is true in the reverse. That is, young people, including medical professionals, cannot hear us. Perhaps they don’t hear most people, but the problem is greater when it comes to older adults. I think you’ve learned not to assume that you are being heard the first time. So you have to say it over and over to as many people as necessary and insist on being told how the information is being recorded and how it will be passed on. And when I next get the “as you grow older” speech, I will try not to scream.

  3. It is very sad to hear that you went through so much agony to have a knee replaced. Now that you have graduated from novice to expert your hip surgery will go smoothly. Make sure your allergies are discussed with the surgeon. Ask the hospital nutritionist to email you before hand the daily menu. You don’t want a rice diet for sure. If a medicine is prescribed before or after surgery you are permitted to call the pharmacy to ask what side effects to expect or if there are any drug interactions with the drugs that you normally take (including vitamins and over the counter drugs). In other words, be proactive but calm. I wish you the best Muriel. Joe

  4. Best of luck with your hip surgery Muriel!! I hope your intelligence and experience will help you to be heard and well taken care of this time !! Love, Evelyn

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