Priceless: The Good Health of Your Loved Ones

Life is a series of transitions that includes many stages from birth onward into the adult years. We grow from infancy to childhood into a protracted adolescence (that can run from 13-25 years old) and finally land into adulthood. We grow our life experiences along the way to include family, friends, sports, education and a career. Important variables are added to the life formula including x factors like a sudden diagnosis of an illness for a loved one. The unexpected jolts in life produced by a serious health issue are the unpleasant wild cards in life.

Imagine a scenario where an important person in your life recognizes a noticeable change in their health status and immediately faces an emotional flood of fear and uncertainty about their condition. The stress produced by fear of the unknown is a serious obstacle that can be alleviated by a trip to the family doctor to eliminate the “guessing stage” in the process. This is the first stage toward a solution because the family doctor will steer the afflicted loved one toward a specialist for a clearer picture of the medical problem. The exception to this method is an emergency room visit where on-call specialists may enter into the equation. The important components in this equation are good communication with the doctor and timely diagnosis of the medical condition to properly manage the inherent stress in these situations.

    Steps to consider:

  • Every serious health challenge requires immediate action to understand the problem and define the treatment, therefore an initial medical appointment should be made within a week of the discovery of a problem.
  • It is important to document the symptoms experienced by the loved one. The person will likely be more comfortable during an initial discussion with somebody close to them and might provide important information about their current condition. All changes in appetite, weight, sleep patterns, energy levels, body functions, strength levels, general sense of well-being (eg. extended nausea, breathing problems, numbness, etc.) should be noted and documented for the physician. It is also advisable to write down any relevant questions for the doctor because it may be difficult to remember to ask the right questions during a medical consultation due to the extra stress.
  • The person closest to the affected loved one should be prepared to share personal observations about the specific health changes in the loved one. It is highly advisable to write down these observations and include a time frame of the changes if possible.
  • There is strength in numbers when a person has a consultation with a doctor because the stress of the visit often makes it difficult for the affected person to properly absorb the information. Another set of “ears” is a good way to ensure that the message is received and understood during the consultation, plus the extra person can take written notes to get the proper information.
  • There may be an occasion when the person takes some tests (blood, body fluids, scans, tissue, body function by-products, etc.) and gets the “doctor needs to see you” call. Definitely go with the person because there is an understandable shift into high gear in the stress response, so it is important to employ some relaxation techniques to dial down the “worry bird’s” anxiety levels. Plus the person may require somebody to drive them home from the appointment because of the emotional overload.
  • The news may turn out to be “not great” during the course of a consultation and may require additional treatment for the medical condition. This new challenge means that many new questions will arise in the situation such as specialist appointment time frames, treatments, extra tests, support structures for the problem, or extra costs and their affordability via low cost/no cost or sliding scale options. Or, if cost is not an insurmountable obstacle, are there other medical avenues that are available to the affected person? Two sets of ears and a written record of the conversation with the physician or specialist is once again a valuable asset in this situation.

There is only one message when it comes to a health issue that has not gone away: do not ignore it. Early detection and treatment can completely change the game and ensure a full recovery for the loved one, so make that call. There are absolutely no material replacements for the good health of the people that matter most in your life.

(Thank you to Jim Sutherland of Ghostwriters: Written Communication Consultants for his assistance with this article)

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