My goal is to help you create a lifestyle of positivity and possibility. I am smiling!

– Warmly, Honey

The importance of advocates during medical procedures

I have a personal fairy that sprinkles fairy dust over me, my kabbalah red string on my left wrist that guards and protects me, my ultimate concierge husband who loves me and my family and an amazing group of friends worldwide who mean the world to me. Over the course of my lifetime I have learned many lessons through personal experiences. I have never tossed a lesson. Each is tucked in in my mind just in case. And, the ‘just in cases’ have come up again and again. Today, darlings I have a lesson I want to share with you. It absolutely saved my life in my early 40s. The lesson: you must have an advocate, at every age and especially after the age of 50 by your side when you have surgery.

Why you need an advocate

It seems every time I have that yearly physical they find something. Good that I go because I am here to tell my stories.

My family and I were living in Hawaii at the time. The doctor felt a nodule in my neck near my thyroid. They did a needle biopsy and nothing was determined except that it had to come out. With one of my daughters, I flew to Chicago to be near my parents. My other daughter stayed with her father.

The day of the surgery, my daughter saved my life. If she had not been in the hospital room at that time, I would have died. This was an experience I tucked away into my mind, a powerful ‘just in case.’

What went wrong

After my surgery, I was given a room on the orthopedic floor. Beds were short on the floor I should have been on at the hospital. That is a no-no my darlings. Make sure to remind your doctor you must be on the appropriate floor for your condition. Why? Because an orthopedic nurse does not know the warning signs to look for in a thyroid patient.

I remember the entire event started to take place immediately upon being transported to my room on the orthopedic floor. I told my mother and father that I was having trouble swallowing. They called the nurse who looked at me and said, “This is perfectly normal.’

I was getting worse and had my mom call the nurse again. Her answer was the same. My parents left for dinner. My daughter stayed by at my side. Darlings, I was never left alone and I considered this at the time… family love. Instead, it was a combination of love and advocacy for a young woman still in the throws of anesthesia; a young woman who could not take care of herself.

After my parents left my daughter noticed that my neck and my ear lobes were swelling. She ran for help. By luck, my surgeon was on his way to my room and my daughter pulled him as they raced together to my room.

The conversation

My surgeon: “This is catastrophic. She must be taken back to surgery immediately. Nurses are taught this the first week in nursing school.”

I don’t remember a word from my daughter.

Before I knew it I was lying on an operating table with an anesthesiologist bending over me.

I remember saying, “Please don’t put me to sleep. I don’t want any more anesthetic in my body.”

They honored my wishes and numbed the area, the kind anesthesiologist leaning close to my ear, talking to me the entire time telling me I would be fine and to just breathe slowly.

I heard the surgeon speaking. He was furious.

“This young woman would have been dead if I had not visited her room and listened to her young daughter’s story.”

“For God sakes, her throat cavity is filled with blood and she was suffocating to death. We would have a young woman lose her life through our error and the nursing staff. Thank God, she had an advocate in her daughter.”

I heard it all my darlings. And, though I was groggy, I was also enlightened and tucked his life saving instructions into my mind.

Since then I have been my daughter’s advocate, my mother’s advocate and my ultimate concierge’s advocate. I have sat up all night in chairs for as long as four days. I have been resolute in protecting those I love.

And in turn, I have never been left alone. I am afraid to be. And, with good reason. A nurse has several patients; an advocate has your back.

Reasons for an advocate

  1. Hospitals are busy. It is a business. They rush you in and rush you out. Mistakes are made.
  2. Antibiotic-resistant infections can be common in hospitals. Nurses see many patients. An advocate can make sure clean gloves are worn or anti–bacterial soap is used.
  3. If you ring for help and no one comes, your advocate can get up and walk to the nurses station to get you the attention you require. .
  4. You cannot beat the emotional support of an advocate.
  5. If you are going to be disorientated, disabled or unconscious, no matter how briefly you should have someone who can speak for you.
  6. If you do not have a loved one I suggest you hire an advocate to advocate for you.
  7. Remember this is not just age-related. Young people get infections and are given the wrong meds and need help and another set of eyes and ears as well.

Everyone wants to survive. Everyone wants to live a healthy lifestyle. Everyone has to be proactive. Emotionally our special fairy helps and the red string sign of protection guards, but ultimately, it is you who must take the bull by the horn and be your own special fairy.

Dear readers, share your thoughts with me in the comments below or on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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1 Comment
  1. Without a doubt, everyone benefits from having an advocate for all things health-and-wellness related. I have been a Visiting Nurse (and University Faculty) for many, many years. Too often, there is no one out there to assume the role of the advocate and the Emergency Room becomes the go-to place to fix what can/will go wrong, be it falls, non-adherence with medications or chronic disease mismanagement. I see these scenarios nearly every time I step into my role as a Community Health Nurse.

    Yes, every single nurse should know that swallowing problems are always problematic and should never be ignored. If nothing else, swallowing problems can lead to aspiration pneumonia or-as you can see- worse outcomes. The larger problem is compounded when patients go home and there’s no one there.

    Everyone benefits from having friends. family, Rabbis, Priests and Ministers being nearby and on our side.

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