Advocates aren’t born, they’re created

I’ve known for a long time that when it comes to my daughter and hospital staff, I can get fierce! I think every parent who has had a child spend time in the hospital, and especially those who spend considerable time inpatient, has had to go toe-to-toe with someone in the medical field.

I’ve had words with a doctor who chose to poo-poo a particular concern, I’ve learned that a grumpy nurse isn’t something I HAVE to deal with, I’ve even scared the crud out of a student nurse who tried to use my daughter as a test case to better her port-accessing skills.

I’ve learned to stand up for my daughter and her needs, I am her number one advocate and I take that role seriously.

I didn’t realize that role would overflow to other family members.

Friday night I got the news that my mother had a pulmonary embolism, a life critical condition stemming from a leg injury. She was in the hospital, she had clots in her leg and in her lungs, her life was very much in danger. I packed up my kids and drove three hours to be at her bedside, there was nowhere more important to be than by her side.

At one point in the day we got the disturbing news that my sister had called the hospital and spoken with my mother’s nurse. My sister called me in a flurry because the nurse had told her that my mother was fine, doing well, only had one clot in her leg and whyareyousoworried?

Oh HAI! ME? I’m the crazy daughter right here.

I stomped down to the nurse’s station and made my case very clear.

I never raised my voice. I didn’t have to. And I truly believe that there is very rarely…I won’t ever say NEVER…a reason to get ugly.

I started with my very heartfelt explanation that I respect nurses and I understand exactly how busy they are…my mom WAS one, for Pete’s sake. I shared how WELL I understand the hospital as a “professional hospital mom” and how I have certain needs that have to be met for me to feel confident in the care that my loved one receives. I made her pull my mom’s chart and go over her CT scans with me, to ensure the correct diagnosis (which WAS multiple pulmonary embolisms) and to make sure that she understood the severity of what she’d one.

I explained my concern that as my mother’s nurse for the entire day, I was completely upset to find out that she didn’t even take the time to KNOW what was wrong with my mother. How could she possibly monitor my mom or be on the lookout for critical symptoms if she didn’t even know what she was supposed to be looking for? I wanted her to be vitally aware of my mother’s every change so that she can see if something starts to go wrong. What kind of pass-down report could she give the next nurse when she has no idea what is going on with mom’s body?

It scared me. Profoundly.

Because I know SQUAT about pulmonary embolisms and I need to know that THEY know what they’re doing.

But what I do know is how to be my mother’s advocate. I gave her a list of thing she could do to make life easier for all of us: letting us know test results without making us chase her down, writing things down for my mom to help her remember since she’s so tired she can barely remember her own name, making sure prescriptions were already ordered for pain meds, sleep meds, anything she could possibly need, so that Mom wouldn’t have to suffer while waiting on the doctor to get on the phone.

The nurse apologized profusely, she was genuinely sorry and understood the gravity of her error. She and I had a serious meeting of the minds on how we could work together to help my mom, and while I know she made a mistake of epic proportion, she was an excellent nurse in her desire to help and care. I left the hospital knowing that I’d done everything I possibly could to make my mom’s experience as a patient as easy as it could be, everything else was in the capable hands of the doctors and nurses.

I wish I hadn’t had to spend weeks and months of my life by Peyton’s side at the hospital, but today? I was thankful for the knowledge that made me a warrior for my mom.

You can also find me at Hope4Peyton, The Mayhew Review and Twitter, you should come by, it’s nice…we have cookies! Feel free to email me at Anissa.Mayhew (at) gmail (dot )com.

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