Caregiving and making things

I talked with Denise today on her web radio show (the link goes to the podcast file).  I am also volunteering with her in a couple of capacities and I’m going to get a chance to do some writing for her.

Who is she?  She is from and and she does a lot of work with people who are caregiving and when that process ends she helps them transition out of their caregiving role.  She is also charming and interesting and I am having a blast getting to know her.

For people who are just entering a caregiving situation it is important to start to build your community because there are days when you love your caree but don’t like them much.  Their are days when people will give you a pitying look and tell you that you are a saint when what you want is a shower and to listen to your own music really really really loud.

I find the work she is doing, and the dedication with which she works at it very inspiring.  Go check it out, and sign up if what you need is a little support as you become a caregiver.


National Geographic & Antibiotics

That sounds like I’m out sick – but I’m not.

The article “When You Swallow A Grenade” looks at the microbe impact of taking antibiotics.  It talks primarily about about it in a broad, layman’s way – just as they should.  Carl Zimmer does a great storytellers job of talking about what happens to a persons entire body chemistry when they are on antibiotics.  (Ladies, you know what we’re talking about here, right???)

It leads me to a minor confession – I am selectively dishonest about taking antibiotics that have been prescribed for me.

IF I am prescribed antibiotics and in the conversation with the MD/PA/NP it appears to be an actual *infection* of some sort, I will take them – as prescribed – every last one of them.  I generally add a probiotic / yogurt / kefir but not in immediately adjacent to the antibiotic.

IF the doctor mumbles something about a virus, or worse, appears to walk in the door with a prescription in mind — theeeeeeeen, I’m much less likely to get the prescription filled.  I am perfectly comfortable with feeling like crud while my body works it out on it’s own.

The other confession – I practice poor communication because I do not turn down the prescription.

I do not engage my MD/PA/NP by saying that I’m not planning on taking it, in doing so I don’t give them the chance to tell me that it is important, or that it is fine, or any of that other stuff that they might want to say.  I never open that door.

It isn’t completely my job, obviously, I wish MD/PA/NP felt more comfortable telling patients to rest and take care of themselves in a way that doesn’t involve antibiotics – but they aren’t.  I believe in patient engagement and a patient being a partner in their care … I suppose that next time it means I’ll need to own my choices and let them know when I’m not going to fill a prescription.  I want to open that door.

Important Questions

Ok, this was a nearly perfect article.

It highlights the questions that patients often don’t ask.  They are fantastic questions and will absolutely bring a patient closer into an engaged state with their doctor.

My favorite (ok, that isn’t fair – it is like picking a favorite child) … but a great one –

6.  How will I know my treatment is working?

Lovely, simple, important.  Such a tough question for some things (high blood pressure, etc…) but still – giving patients a clear sense of how it will FEEL when they do what they are being asked to do and giving them a chance to contemplate that in their life before they walk out the door.

Imagine being a doctor and talking about taking a diuretic having a conversation about the ways they will feel better but also talking about the urgency issues.  Then maybe hearing the patient think out loud about when they would take the pill (right before the commuter train? at bedtime?) and being able to suggest what other patients have tried.

I really enjoyed what I read, and I’m passing it on to the caregivers I know.

For a shiver in your spine

I wish I had known “medical historian” was a thing a long time ago because it is AWESOME.

Lindsey Fitzharris at The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice  is showing off some great medical history stuff and she is getting ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign for show development.

Part of the fascination with medical history, for me, is the false sense that we have made a lot of progress from the leech days.  I don’t think we really have, and in so many ways we are too quickly using up what progress we have made.

I can imagine in 200 years talking about a Golden Age of Antibiotics when we had plenty of variety and they generally worked for what we needed them for.  I don’t think that will be forever true.  I think history will show us being too self-absorbed and ignorant, to wasteful of our options for treating infectious illness.

I hope that someone is figuring out what we will do instead.

Anyhow, medical history is neat, Lindsey’s blog is a lot of fun, and a little bit creepy – which is just what you want in a medical history blog.

The medicine I grew up with

I am working on a new theory.

I propose that, lacking immediate mortal threat, there is a discomfort with medical developments that happen after a person reaches adulthood.

My father’s youth pre-dates antibiotics.  He was raised at a time where doctor and G-d were nearly synonymous, and when his doctor tells him to do something he does.  With one exception – pills for chronic diseases.  He just doesn’t seem to put any stock into taking a tiny pill to manage something that doesn’t create a negative sensation in his body.  Pills are something to be taken briefly to fix the thing that sent you to the doctor in the first place … just like when he was a young man.

Being an American woman, there have been long chunks of time in my life where I took daily medications, I could understand their importance and assumed the lack of symptoms were proof of effectiveness.  If someone told me to take a pill to not have a stroke, I’d do it.


It took me a LONG time to come around on the flu shot.  I got my son the chicken pox shot even though I think it is dumb.  I expect by the time he is old enough the HPV vaccination will be mandatory for boys as well.  This isn’t about debunked theories, this is about the newness of the vaccinations.  The fact that the chicken pox is boring and uncomfortable but not life threatening for most of us.  The fact that the flu shot isn’t well developed enough yet to be effective enough to save people the worry about getting sick.

It is because it didn’t exist when I was a young adult … so I am distrustful of it.

So is it just a thing with me and my family, or is it true for you as well?

It has to start somewhere.

I have been giving this site the side-eye for a little while now.  It is time to start.

My professional life in healthcare is nearly 15 years long.  It has occasionally intersected with my personal healthcare hobbies, but often they (gratefully) are separate from each other.  After a lot of introspection I’ve decided that going after my bliss and making my living are best kept close but not enmeshed with each other.

So this space is for my healthcare hobbies and occasionally my professional opinion.  Mainly my hobbies, which are, as follows:

1.  The first six weeks after a critical illness diagnosis.

2.  Death, the grieving process, and the knowledge that death is often not the worst thing that could happen.

3.  Medical training, communication training, and patient engagement.

4.  Anatomy and physiology.

5.  Understanding the illnesses of those around me until I am comfortable announcing that I have earned my “Jr [specialty] badge”

I am a member of the Society of Participatory Medicine and the Berryl Institute.  I volunteer my time with local health related organizations.  I think about this stuff a lot.

So … why today?  Why do I finally start typing today?

Because Caitlin at The Order of The Good Death posted a great thing today – something she’d seen by Jen (who I am just now discovering) and I want to know where this is forever.  So now I know, it is in my first post.