How My 80 Year Old Client Became An Empowered Patient

My 80 year old client is an active, funny, social and vibrant woman.  She has been my client for several years.  I helped her with her husband and then when he passed continued with her needs.

She liked having an advocate, someone she could call and take care of any problem.  She  needed to have cardiac surgery and decided to have it in the Boston area to be near her family.  Since the family was close, I was less involved because the family was on site.  I was playing role of sounding board and consultant.  I wasn’t interacting with the medical as much only as requested by the family.

My client is from the generation that puts their trust in the medical profession completely.  She didn’t question what was told her or procedures decided upon.

She came through the surgery well but what should have been a five day hospital stay and then rehab turned into a month in the hospital.  She had complications that seemed to be spiraling out of control.  The specialists were not talking to each other and deciding on treatments independently.  As always the family dynamic was interesting and at times a minefield.  At one point, a family member requested I speak with the players.  I did and the course of action became temporairly more streamlined.

What happened next made me smile.  My client called me late one night and said she had just said no to a procedure.  One of the specialists had come in with his residents in tow and said he was going to do a procedure which had to occur in the OR.  Luckily, my client had just spoken to the lead doctor and knew something wasn’t right.  She said No to the doctor.  Her words were,  “I am not doing that!”

I know what it took for her to say that.  She explained to me how she realized the procedure was not right for her.  She said she had been listening to the doctors speak to her and her family about what was happening with her body.  She starting thinking about the procedure and it didn’t make any sense to her.  She felt it was a mistake.  She said the words just came out of her mouth.  She had to say something because her family was not there and the doctor wanted to take her to the OP immediately.

I told how proud I was of her and how she was now an empowered patient.  I told her it takes so much courage to do what she did.  I was very impressed!  And that is how my 80 Year old client became an empowered patient.