I hope it gives you strength, hope, and peace.
Before I begin this post, I want to say that the vast majority of healthcare workers I've encountered along this journey have been compassionate, competent, smart, loving, and incredibly hardworking people. Thanks to many of them, and especially a few brave emergency room doctors and surgeons who believed the impossible was possible, I survived a clot that is fatal in 95% of cases. I became the 5% of survivors because I believed in myself and surrounded myself with a team who wouldn't give up on me, who had my life and longterm health in mind. You may feel like as a patient you don't have the ability to choose who cares for you, especially in emergency situations, but that's almost never true. Advocate for yourself, find your Core people, and live, and survive, and be well.
When you are going through something seemingly impossible health wise there will be three kinds of doctors you'll encounter. Type 1 are the doctors who believe that you will likely not survive this and they will treat you accordingly. It may sound harsh but it does happen. Doctors have to be practical, pragmatic people, and some of them frankly have just seen too much. They see you as a ghost and see no need to offer help or ideas, you are dead to them already so they will treat you like an unfortunate or unseemly object to be disposed of as soon as possible. If you try to advocate for yourself with them, you'll hit a brick wall. Get rid of them. I'll say it again, Get. Rid. Of. Them.
There will be times when you regret your decision to live and if there is even one person from Type 1 left around you, your regret will have an ally. Starve it out. Give regret no friends. Allow yourself to feel or even say out loud, I wish I had let go. This is too hard. I wish I could be free. Those thoughts and feelings have their purpose as long as there's nobody next to you to say, Yes, you're right. It might be a surprise to know that some of the doctors you come across feel that way or may even say that out loud but it's true. Remember this, doctors are just people too. Some people will have no faith in you. Some people are pessimistic and cruel. It follows that this will be true of some medical professionals as well. Just know that and seek out those who aren't, you'll find plenty and you won't miss the naysayers.
Then there are Type 2 doctors. You'll likely come across some and it gets tricky. Those are the doctors who believe the same thing that Type 1 do; that you're unlikely to survive longterm. But they have a different reaction to this. Type two doctors want to just make you as comfortable as possible and help ferry you into the next life. These doctors can be extremely enticing. They have the ability to make you very comfortable. They touch your arm lovingly, they might even shed an uncharacteristic tear. Make no mistake, these caregivers are just as dangerous at Type 1. Anybody who believes that you've run as far as you can in life or who thinks that you're not the one who's to beat the odds is poison to you. Let these doctors serve their purpose, let them minister to you softly but don't be taken in by their siren call. Say out loud to them, I'm going to make it. I'm going to live a happy, healthy, three or four or five more decades. Believe it.
Type 3 doctors are those who will treat you as a science experiment. They see you as a great opportunity to perform a rare surgery or try an experimental drug. They see you as an article to publish or a number in a survey. You might think that this group is a great one to ally with because they are the ones who'll have the innovative ideas, who'll swing for the fences, who'll “think outside the box.” In some ways you're right. This group will have some ideas that could help you. But don't be fooled, anybody who sees you as a lab rat rather than a person is dangerous. Lab rats don't live long and healthy lives, once their purpose is served to the scientists, they are disposed of. You don't want to be in that category. It breaks my heart just thinking about it. Make no mistake, group three is using you. To further their career, to pump up their ego, who knows, but there is a way to make this group part of your success team.
How do you utilize the breakthrough medicine that Type 3 has to offer without winding up like the rats they love to use? It's simple: use them back. Allow these doctors to be on your team in an advisory capacity. Let them come up with ideas and then decide what your gut tells you is a good idea and say, “Could you send your findings to (insert name of doctor whom you trust and who sees your life as a long one) so I can discuss it with them?” Boom! Pay your copay, be gracious, and get that information so you can discuss it with somebody who has your wellbeing and longevity in mind.
This brings me to your Core doctors. They aren't a type like type one, two, or three, because they will stay with you through thick and thin. They will tell you the truth and they plan to be in it for the long haul. They are the core that gives energy to your mission.
How do you identify your Core team? They are the surgeons, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, specialists, and general practitioners who say say things like, If I were in your shoes, I would really consider this. or This [stent, surgery, medicine, you name it] might be good for now but we also want to think about what's best down the road, and What's most important to you in your life moving forward? These are the doctors who see you as a whole person.
Even in the event that your situation is likely terminal, go with the Core doctors! They are compassionate and caring without perpetuating the belief that there is no hope. Your core team carries the torch for you even when you've stumbled or lost hope in the moment. They are the doctors who have dedicated their lives to helping patients build the best quality of life possible. They are the doctors who will ask you the tough questions, give you the whole picture, and fight the fight alongside you. Anybody who is waving your surrender flag or eagerly watching your battle from the sidelines isn't your ally. Seek out those who believe that you will have the longest possible life with the best possible quality and surround yourself with them. Wrap yourself in victory and be well. I'm rooting for you.
Lots of Love,
For more about this artist and her new book, We Will Survive, 40 Remarkable Stories Inspired by Her #1 Hit click on the button below.