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Senior Momentum - August 2016 - Zoë Tummillo

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Some People Have All The Luck!

by Zoe Tummillo

And, when it comes to routine medical experiences, scary diagnoses, disciplined regimens and unexpected challenges, I am definitely one of those lucky people!

To hear some folks talk, it’s a horror story out there. Doctors, staffs and systems are unresponsive, incompetent, reckless, inconsiderate, too expensive and, of course, just waiting to mess up your life. It is really, really difficult to have a sane conversation with some elders about anything related to their medical care. Some are so angry and miserable they can hardly think straight; they know it all, and all medicos are incompetent! 

I trust that there are certainly some justifiable complaints and arguments. I have had many conversations and have listened to many complaints. However, in some of those cases, I left the discussions convinced that at least eighty percent of the problem was communication, not competence, and fifty percent of that was ignorance; not stupidity, ignorance. If you don’t understand and you don’t ask, fear and anger can come quickly.

I must be the luckiest person and patient still walking upright! I have experienced a boatload of medical professionals in my 81 years, most of them in recent years. With one unimportant exception, I would vouch for the integrity of all of them, within the reasonable limits of my experience with them. From “Tex” my obstetrician years ago, right up to “Hank” in present time, it’s been quite a ride, and quite an education!

Many may disagree with my defensive posture on behalf of our medical community, but recent conversations have encouraged me to write this piece. I said I would, but would mention both sides!

In my opinion, most people expect far too much from their medical caregivers. Basically, they expect perfection: no mistakes, no misunderstandings, flawless diagnoses, on-point timing predictions and (last but not least) guarantees. Hello? Most of my caregivers are people just like me! They live, love, play, disappoint and fulfill. Like any of us, they have bad days, too. I know that there are times when the last thing they want is to see is my face, hear my “list” and come up with the explanations!

Most of our health maintenance is our own personal responsibility! Our medical professionals have limits as well as boundaries. Isn’t it just reasonable to bring as much insight as possible to the experts so they can then apply their expertise to our story? Bring a list!

To date, I have relinquished at least four “you-can-live-without-it” body parts, two of which had taken up with bad company: cancer. Throw in the ongoing miscellaneous and half a dozen other quirks of ageing and it is clear to me that I should make no enemies among the white coats! I need them more than they need me...

 Look again at those caregivers with whom you feel uncomfortable – make lists, ask questions. There are many ways to clear the air in order to improve your medical experiences. After all, when emergencies happen, or the lab tests don’t bring good news, you want to know that you can count on and trust your medical caregivers. It also helps a lot to have a second set of eyes and ears when serious matters are being explained. Bring someone with you.

It is quite enough to deal with advancing years, and it doesn’t help to feel bad about your medical connections. There is help available if you need assistance in how to communicate better with your medical professionals. (Our own Gazette medical columnist, Dr. Veronica Jordan who writes Wellness Corner could probably point you in the right direction for the appropriate help.)

Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; “Pieces of My Path”©, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American; and Senior Momentum: Front And Center!©. To contact her: email: writingservice@earthlink.net 

 

Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; “Pieces of My Path”©, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American; and Senior Momentum: Front And Center!©. To contact her: email: writingservice@earthlink.net