Sunday, November 16, 2008

Now that's initiative

I am very proud of Mama's investigative skills and initiative. She's been feeling exceedingly puny over the past few weeks and getting progressively more fatigued. Other symptoms were a rash that looks like shingles and her weight was up 4-5 pounds over a short time which is a concern because of her congestive heart failure although she has no edema and her lungs are clear, thank goodness. We were just at the cardiologist for a routine check on Friday and he ordered blood work thinking the fatigue might be thyroid related or perhaps anemia.

She had a cardio ablation done several weeks ago to fix an arrhythmia and that doctor who keeps up with her pacemaker put her on a medicine that helps regulate her heart rate in addition to her pacer. Now Mama has a history of intolerance for many medications and there seems to be an ongoing struggle between the cardio guys and her primary care physician over her meds. Her primary care doctor is an internal medicine doc and gerontologist and he understands Mama's physiology so he we have a lot of confidence in his judgment in managing her meds. It should have occurred to me to be aware of any reactions to a new prescription but it just didn't. (In my defense, though, her cardiologist didn't consider it either.) So Mama took it upon herself to research the new drug and its possible side effects and guess what she found? Fatigue, rash, sudden weight gain...

Anyhoo... I'm very proud of Mama's initiative in researching that information that we can bring to her primary care doctor whom we will call first thing Monday morning. And the moral of the story is to remember that we need to be active participants and partners in our medical care. Fewer and fewer physicians these days, especially the specialists, are able to take the time to understand the histories and the individual idiosyncracies of all of their patients so we need to speak up and ask questions about the medicines and procedures that are prescribed, especially when the unexpected happens. And if you're very lucky, as we are, you will find an old-fashioned doctor who still makes the time to really know his or her patients and their histories. But even if you don't you need to be a working partner in your health care and take some initiative when neccessary.

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