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Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Dream Come True: 2017 Christmas Market Cruise

In the early 80s, I took a German culture course as one of the electives for my Bachelor's degree. It was a life-changing experience for me. Each week the professor would share information on German history and the culture of the various areas. She brought the history to life with her stories and memories of living in Germany during the war. One of the lasting memories I had from her stories was how the people celebrated Christmas. She explained that Christmas was not a commercial event but a time for families and friends to come together to share the spirit of the holiday. I learned that the Christmas Markets are a central theme throughout most of Europe and helps to keep the spirit of the holiday.  I made a promise to myself that I would visit Germany to experience the Christmas Markets one day. That promise became a reality this year when my husband, and I took the trip of a lifetime! Here is a short overview of our journey as well as a few links so you can explore this special event with me.

Today, visiting the Christmas Markets has become a popular destination because of River Cruising. My husband heard my stories of my professor over the years and surprised me with the suggestion that we plan a vacation this year and experience the Christmas Markets! As it was late in the year, I called our travel agent and explained what we wanted to do. I gave her some available dates, and she was able to help us book a cruise on AMA Waterways

We left on November 24 and arrived in Prague where our pre-cruise adventure started. We checked into our hotel and asked for a recommendation for a tour of the city. The hotel clerk suggested a few tours, but Tours4Charity caught my eye. We decided to try it the next day so we could learn about the city. 

As we flew most of the night before we were exhausted but we had to take a walk around the town to get the feel of Prague. It is a beautiful city, and we got to experience our first of many Christmas Markets. The food and mulled wine smelled wonderful, despite being exhausted, we could not help ourselves, as we tried a few of the traditional treats before returning to our hotel for the night. 

The next day we found the starting place to begin our tour of the city with Tours4Charity. JP (the owner) gave us an excellent overview of the history of the city, the area and the people on a three-hour walking tour of the city. We were lucky as we arrived in the offseason, so we had a private tour with JP. 

He provided us with insights into the history that allowed us to get a feel for the area. It was excellent, and I would highly recommend this tour if you are ever in Prague.  After the tour, we visited the Charles Castle, had an outstanding Czech dinner and returned to the hotel exhausted! The next day the plan was to get up early for our flight to Budapest where we would board our ship and start our Danube Christmas Cruise!

Our home for the week was the AmaCerto, a beautiful ship and part of the AMA Waterways fleet. We quickly unpacked and made our way to the central reception area where we met many of our fellow travelers. Most of the people were from various cities around the United States. We met people from Canada and also Australia. 

We met our tour director Nick, who gave us an overview of the trip and what we could expect. We also met the Captain and the various members of his team. We had a welcome toast and then we were invited to move to the dining room where we had an excellent dinner. After dinner, the ship did a tour around the city of Budapest to see the city of lights. It was beautiful and a great way to begin the trip. 

The next day we had a walking tour of Budapest where we learned about the city, the area and the people from a local guide. Once back on the ship we set sail on the Danube River. The plan was to travel through several countries, visit the areas and explore the Christmas Markets. I love Europe for the easy access to various countries. The world is indeed connected!  Click here to view the itinerary we followed.

It was exciting to explore the highlights of each city we visited as well as the Christmas Markets. Each country has their own history and traditions of how they celebrate the holidays. Included as part of the River Cruise is a local tour in each city we visited. The local guides were excellent and imparted information that informed and educated us to the area. 

One thing we found to be similar in all of the countries we visited was that families and friends used the Christmas Markets as a way to gather and share the season. I was also impressed with their wares and the hard work that goes into making the Markets special. Everyone we encountered was helpful and friendly and share thier spirit of Christmas. 

The weather was cold (1-2 Celsius) and we even had snow in a few spots which put us in the Christmas spirit. We were prepared for the weather and took advantage of being outside and exploring despite the cold and snow. The weather actually added to the ambiance of the area which made it bearable. 

We did not go crazy with buying gifts but chose some unique ornaments in the various cities so we would remember the trip. We ended the trip in Nuenbrerg where the first and largest Christmas Market was found.

I wanted to take a few days to visit Southern Braveria, specifically the town of Oberammergau, a town in the Bavarian Alps, Germany. I had been there before but wanted Corky to experience it. 

The area is known for its once-a-decade performance of the Passion Play. In addition, this quaint town is famous for frescoes on the homes that tell various stories and also for woodcarvings where the tradition began. 

As we did not have a lot of time, we hired a driver, Chris for two days who took us all over the area so we could see the highlights. One being Zugspitze, the highest point of the Bavarian Alps. We also visited Neuschwanstein Castle before heading to the airport for our flight home. Chris did a great job and I would highly recommend him if you ever visit the area. To find him, click on here to visit his webpage. 

I will be posting photos on my Facebook page if you want to view them. If we are not connected, just send me a request (Anne Llewellyn) and we can become friends!

In closing, I am so glad that Corky and I took the time to experience Christmas in Europe. It was a trip of a lifetime, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity. I have lost touch with the instructor who planted this seed so many years ago. Her words rang true to me as we explored the various cities and got to experience the Christmas Markets!

I will be back on January 1st to start a new year of Nurse Advocate. I hope you had you and your families have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Three Years and Counting: A Cancer Survivor Looks Forward

Today marks three years of being a cancer survivor. Yes, it was November 24, 2014, when I had a ‘little' car accident' that sent me to the emergency department where a CAT scan revealed a brain tumor. Following the diagnosis, I found my way to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami, where I was diagnosed and treated.

Today I am a cancer survivor. Like every cancer survivor, I live with the realization that I got cancer and that IT can return. In this week's post, I want to share six things I learned from being a cancer survivor. I hope these tips help you and your family if/when you hear the words; you have cancer. 

  1. Every person needs an advocate when they are thrust into the complex world of healthcare. Having an advocate, someone who knows you and can be with your through your journey is essential. When you are told you have cancer (or any other chronic condition), having someone with you who can listen to you, to the doctor, and other members of the healthcare team is critical. My husband was my advocate. He was there with me every step of the way and spoke for me when I could not speak for myself and made sure I was safe. I also had two friends who recognized I needed to be in a Cancer Center to ensure I was diagnosed correctly and treated by a specialist. They both helped my husband realize his responsibility and gave him tips on what he needed to do to prepare for the journey we were taking. I firmly believe all three saved my life.
  2. Being a patient is hard work. As a nurse of 40 years, I thought I knew what it was like to be a patient and what they go through. One of the best things about ‘being diagnosed with cancer' was that I got to see up close and personal how hard it is to be a patient. This experience has given me a new perspective on my role as a Nurse Advocate. Turning your life over to professionals is the first step. Being a patient is very impersonal. People don't know YOU. You are a patient/someone they take care of when you are sick. I strongly encourage every patient to introduce yourself to your healthcare team, so they know who you are and what is important to you. As they get to know you, you become a real person to them. You also begin to develop a personal relationship which allows them to know that you have feelings. Together you will work together on the journey. 
  3. I learned I am responsible for my care. In the early days of my journey, I was not able to participate in my care. The Brain tumor that invaded my body impacted me cognitively, so I needed help. My husband was my voice. As the treatment did its ‘magic,' I became more aware and able to take a more active role in my care. I learned that it was up to me to understand what was happening, to ask questions and to be involved. When I was able, I read my chart and the records that my husband collected. I learned how to use my patient portal so I would know the results of my lab work and other diagnostic tests. I asked questions when I was unsure of what was happening or if I knew I needed help as I was having trouble adjusting. I learned who the influencers were, those who could provide me with information and how to reach them. I became my own advocate and every day I learn how important that is.
  4. I realized I had to take care of my general health care while still focusing on my cancer care. After I completed chemotherapy, I made appointments to see my primary care physician so she would know what was going on. As she was in the same health system, she could access my records and coordinate care with my cancer specialist. I made an appointment with a GYN doctor from the same health system and had my annual mammogram and Pap test done. I had my first colonoscopy after I saw a GI Specialist. The first thing he asked me; when was your last colonoscopy.  After I told him I never had a colonoscopy (at the age of 60), his words hit me so hard that I immediately scheduled a colonoscopy. He said; so you are going to die from colon cancer after beating brain cancer! Having cancer opens your eyes to how important it is to stay healthy. I am still learning how to take care of me. Even as a nurse I have behavior changes I need to make and am using the tools my insurance company offers so that I can stay healthy.
  5. I am adjusting my life to accommodate my ‘new normal’. As a result of chemotherapy, I had complications that have impacted my mobility. I have to wear braces when I walk. My doctor continues to advise me not to drive as a result of ongoing cognitive and physical complications, so I use Uber when I need a ride. As far as work, I have not been able to find a job that meets my skills and restrictions, so I am keeping busy with various projects that are meaningful to me and allow me to use my skills, and improve the process. I am slowing adjusting to a ‘new normal.'
  6. I hope you never hear the words, ‘you have cancer’ but if you do, know that today there are treatments, support systems and most of all HOPE. Cancer is a treatable disease, and many people do well with treatment.  After facing my own mortality, I have a new perspective on life and what is important to me. I try to keep that focus as I move forward on my journey. I work to stay positive and live life to its fullest. Facing my mortality has caused me to look at the kind of care/treatment I want if the cancer reoccurs or another event occurs. I have talked to my husband about this as well as my family.

In closing, I want to thank everyone who has supported me. I cannot come up with the words to thank my husband, my family, my friends and colleagues who have been with me during this journey. Their support has been amazing and heartwarming, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I hope this post resonates with you if you have been diagnosed with cancer or another life-changing diagnosis. If you have a comment, suggestion or a tip that year learned on your journey, feel free to leave a comment or email me at

Thanks for reading Nurse Advocate! Anne

Friday, November 17, 2017

Why can’t I use my patient portal to make my doctor’s appointment more efficient?

The healthcare industry has made substantial gains over the past ten years due to the implementation of technology and the realization that consumers are the most important members of the healthcare team.

Today, most hospital systems and physician practices have electronic medical records that have helped them know more about their populations than they ever before. As a result, they can focus on key indicators to help them better diagnose and treat their patients. Electronic health records allow physicians, and nurse practitioners to order medications safely. They also have patient portals that allow patients to access lab work, make and check appointments and send messages to their providers. These are significant advances, yet, we are still behind other countries and industries on learning how to use health information technology to improve care coordination and contain healthcare costs. 

Case In Point:

While I was waiting to see my primary care physician yesterday, I looked around the waiting room that was full of people waiting to see their doctors as well as staff members doing their work. Most of the people were on their smartphones or I-pads. What I found interesting was the number of charging stations placed around the room. I have never seen so many in one place but was glad they were there as my cell phone battery was low. I moved closer to one of the stations so I could charge and still use my device. Having my cell with me helps me make productive use of my time while waiting. 

I noted that there was a wide variety of people ranging in age and from different cultures. People seemed to be relaxed and focused on what they were doing.  I thought it was interesting how we have all gotten used to waiting when we go to our doctor’s offices.  As I sat there, I started to make my to-do list as I will be leaving for a trip in the next few days and needed to organize myself. 

In thinking about my trip, I checked the website for the airline I was flying to make sure I had my seats reserved. As I did this, I wondered why couldn’t I pre-register for my doctor’s appointment like I do for a flight when I travel?

I would love to be able to log into my patient portal and register for my appointment. While there I could check for any instructions from my doctors. List any questions I had for the doctor, note any new medications I was taking, and review any test I had prior to the appointment. Doing these things would allow me to be prepared and be more efficient. This would help me be more actively involved in my care rather than a passive bystander. We have the technology to do all of this so why is the healthcare system not more efficient?

If we are going to improve the healthcare system, we have to engage people to be prepared for their appointments. Doing so will help our doctor identify barriers we have and allow us (the patient) to be actively involved in our health and healthcare. I am putting a call out to readers to let me know how technology has allowed you to be an active member of your healthcare team. Please share your experience so we can all learn.


Here are some articles that point to how technology can be used to improve the delivery of care. Staying up to date on trends and issues is important for us all. Take time to read these articles, then ask questions of your healthcare provider as to what they are doing to enhance your healthcare experience. Get involved and together we can change the system, so that is set up to meet the needs of the end users, YOU and ME. 

Unlocking the value of patient portals: 3 thoughts from Athena Health

What to do While Waiting

Have a good week!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Ten Tips to Ensure You Take an Active Role in YOUR Healthcare

Sy Simms coined the phrase, An Educated Consumer is Our Best Customer. Today this is true not only in the retail industry but also in healthcare. Because quality, safety, and value are tied to hospital and physician reimbursement rates, patients have a great deal of power as a key member of the healthcare team.

The problem is most patients don’t know they have this power or how to use their power effectively. In this week’s post, I want to share 10 tips I learned during my healthcare journey that helped me to be an empowered patient who is active in my care. I hope they help you as well.
  • Recognize that you need help when you enter the complex healthcare system. As a nurse of over 40 years, I thought I knew how the system works. But becoming a patient who was impaired cognitively for the first few weeks of my healthcare encounter taught me that regardless of my experience, I needed an advocate. Having someone with you is critical to ensure you are safe and have a voice in your care.  Your advocate can be a family member or friend who has the time to accompany you to medical appointments and visit you in the hospital. As most family members and friends are busy, you may need more than one person to step in as your advocate. So take time to look at your circle of family and friends to see who you want to help you. Talking to them ahead of time about your wishes is important. Sharing your advanced directives and letting the people who will advocate for you understand your wishes is important so they know what matters most to you. Five Wishes is a tool that will get you started. Click here to learn more.  
  • If you don’t have a friend or family member who can advocate for you, consider hiring a professional patient advocate. A professional patient advocate can help you in a number of ways. For example, they can help you coordinate your care, do research on your condition and help you find providers who can treat you when in need. They can also review your medical bills and question items that might not seem right to you. If care has been denied by your insurance company professional patient advocates can investigate the reason for the denial with your insurance company. To put hiring a professional patient advocate into perspective that will make sense, think of how you hire an accountant to handle your taxes or an attorney when you need representation in a court of law. A professional patient advocate works for you to help you navigate the complex healthcare system and ensure you have a voice in your care. They represent you and your wishes to the healthcare team and to the payer. Finding an advocate is getting easier as they are starting to write articles on what they do in the main press and there are professional organizations who offer directories where you can search to find an advocate in your area. Currently, the Patient Advocate Certification Board is developing a national certification for those who specialize in the area of Patient Advocacy. To learn more, visit the website The certification will be a way consumers can find an advocate who has the credentials to do the work they do.
  • Get involved in your healthcare organization. One way to do this is to be involved in their Patient and Family Advisory Council. Doing so allows the organization understand the needs of patients and caregivers who use the health system. Today, quality, safety, and the patient experience are tied to reimbursement that adds to revenue of hospitals and doctors’ offices when outcomes are positive. Understanding the patients and the caregivers perspective helps them to improve the work they do. If you want to be involved, ask the charge nurse on the floor where you are admitted if the hospital has a Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and how you can volunteer your time. I participate in the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Patient and Family Advisory Council. It is a good way for me to share my experience, learn from others and make improvements to the system that will benefit all. 
  • Complete surveys that you get after a visit. People pay attention to these survey’s so take a few minutes to give your opinion. Be honest with your input and offer a suggestion for improvement if you have a complaint. 
  • Ask to see the Face Sheet when you are admitted to the hospital. The reason for you to review this document is that many times the information is wrong. The face sheet is where many people go for information on you. When admitted to the hospital, at a doctor’s appointment, or when getting a diagnostic test, review the information on the face sheet so you can make sure the information is correct. 
  • Don’t be afraid to call your doctor: If you get a fever, notice a rash or feel sick, call your doctor. Don’t worry if it is after hours or on a weekend. Your doctor wants to hear from you. If they are not available they will have someone on call who can call you back and give you direction. If you can’t get your doctor, go to the urgent care center or emergency department. This is especially true if you are receiving chemotherapy or getting other types of treatment that can leave you open to serious infections if not recognized early.  
  • Prepare for your appointments. If you are in the hospital, prepare for rounds (when the team comes to your room). Write down any questions or concerns you have. No question is stupid or unnecessary. Your healthcare team cannot anticipate every problem so sharing your concerns, what is troubling to you or a question that you have is the only way they have to meet your individual needs. This is also important when you go to the doctor's office or for a therapy visit. Having your list of questions will help you have a productive appointment. 
  • Get familiar with your patient portal. The patient portal is a way for you to communicate with your doctors and access many of your medical records. Check to see if your doctor has a patient portal system and how you can access it. If you are at a large healthcare system, they usually have a patient portal that makes checking on lab or other diagnostic tests easier. In addition, your insurance company will also have a portal that you can review bills and ask questions related to your insurance. These are important tools that you can use to be actively involved in your care. 
  • Keep your own records. Get a binder and put copies of your medical records into the binder. Having your records in the binder will allow you to pull out a document the team may not have seen, keep your team informed, and avoid duplication and medical errors. 
  • Remember that YOU, the patient, is the only constant in the healthcare system so it is up to YOU to be an active participant in YOUR care. If you have an idea on how you have advocated for yourself, please share so others can learn.

Have a good week. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Ensuring Safe Transitions of Care: We Can and Should do Better

Transitions of care occur when a patient moves from one setting to another. Transitions are when the patient is most at risk for a medical error or injury to occur. To prevent unintended injuries and setbacks there is a focus throughout the healthcare industry to improve processes in identifying patients at risk and implementing strategies to ensure safe transitions of care.  

Many factors contribute to ineffective transitions of care as patients move from one setting to the next. The root causes often differ from one health care organization to another, but three major causes have been identified. They include: 
  • Communication breakdowns
  • Patient and family education breakdowns 
  • And accountability breakdowns.

A friend of mine recently experienced a setback in her transition of care after having a subchondroplasty procedure done on her left foot in an outpatient surgical center. She posted that she was nervous about the surgery, but felt it was necessary due to the pain she was experiencing. Many of her friends responded to her post and wished her well and hoped that she would come through the procedure without any complications and would get some relief from the pain she has been dealing with.

Unfortunately, the next post on her Facebook page shared that she had an unfortunate accident as she transitioned from the outpatient surgery center to home. This note was posted by her husband and said: “Mary is in the hospital with a compound fracture of the left ankle which she sustained when entering our condo following her foot surgery this morning. She had received a nerve block for the procedure and it removed all semblance of control and she rolled her ankle as she came into the condo. To repair the compound fracture of the ankle, she required surgery, a hospital stay and will require extensive physical therapy.

I was shocked and saddened when I read the post as it shows what happens when a person had an unsuccessful transition of care. I don’t have any of the details that lead up to this event, but it seems like this was a preventable injury that could have been avoided with better communication and proactive planning.  As a result of an unsuccessful transition of care, the patient suffered a serious injury which complicated her current condition, required emergency surgery, a hospital admission, additional pain and suffering as well as extensive rehabilitation to help the patient relearn to walk. 

When transitioning from one setting to another, it is important for the nurses, the patient (if able) and the caregiver take the time to look at the patient’s overall condition to make surer the discharge plan is safe and meets the needs of the patient. The patient and the caregiver should not be in a rush to go home that they leave the facility without thinking of barriers they may face at home. In the same vein, the nursing staff has to take time to talk to the patient and the caregiver to make sure they can handle the patient’s condition in a safe manner.  

I am not sure what happened in this case, but I know that something went terribly wrong and as a result, the patient has had a major setback. I encourage every patient and their caregiver to ask questions, and if you are not comfortable with the plan of care or you don’t think you can function safely as you transition from one setting to the other to ask for help. Asking for a nurse case manager or patient advocate to assess the situation to ensure you are safe is a critical step that should happen before every transition takes place. These professionals have the skills and expertise to assess the situation and inform the team of the barriers or issues that can cause an unsafe transition. 

In my friend’s situation, maybe staying longer in recovery or being admitted till the nerve block wore off would have been safer than allowing her to go home with no feeling in her leg.

Unfortunately, there is a push to do more and more procedures as an outpatient. In the past, the patient would have been admitted till the nerve block wore off reducing the incidence of injury.  The key to is to identify those patients at risk and to err on the side of safety. As a healthcare team, WE  have to do better!


Transitions of Care: The need for a more effective approach to continuing patient care. To access this article, click here 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Breast Cancer Awareness: Strength, Courage and Hope

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To bring awareness and hope, I share a note Betty Stover, a good friend and colleague wrote about her experience as a Breast Cancer Survivor. I hope her words will give all who read this post hope, strength and courage.  


BY Betty L. Stover, RN

Many men and women, this year, will be told: “YOU HAVE BREAST CANCER.” Early detection is paramount to treatment and eradication of this horrible Disease. It could save your breast and/or your life, to live longer and enjoy the active lifestyle you experience prior to your diagnosis.

BREAST CANCER IS SURVIVABLE – Most patients are able to travel the road of diagnosis, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and perhaps a clinical trial. These are innovative therapies providing progress in treating and caring for breast cancer patients. Clinical trials bring hope that a cure will be found while participating is a powerful motivator to bring home to others. An important aspect of this disease is emotional, bringing anxiety, “why me”? Living along, depression, loss of companionship, who will watch my kids, clean the house, etc. Using different scents in the home for relaxation, yoga, Pilates, maintaining your health, good nutrition (consult a dietician) and follow-up visits with physicians help many people. Some people find exercise helps them and a group called  (SOS) SAVE OUR SISTERS, the Dragon Boat Team in Miami, has strenuous activities that have proven to strengthen the upper body while providing camaraderie and fun for men and women; a proven after treatment benefit.

SUPPORT – Support plays a large part in the disease journey, whether it be family or friends with you thought the good or bad or your Bosom Buddies or any support group. Your Buddies, who have traveled this road or are going along it now, understand the issues and can give you a voice of experience. What do I do for nausea? Is the medication my doctor ordered right for me? What happened when you took it? How long will I have this pain? They meet with you or take you to your doctor’s appointments, see you through surgery and recovery, attend appointments and treatments with you, and are always available by telephone, even in the middle of the night.

YOUR BOSOM BUDDIES gave me the support and love I needed during my journey as my family lives in other states. I have been involved in many events I would not have heard of without MY BOSOM BUDDIES. I always say to people, “Breast Cancer is the best things to happen to me” and they think I am crazy (maybe?). I have made many new friends and gained a new lifestyle.

I could not end this without sharing the love and support of my church family during my journey. They took me into their arms and were beside me during this bumpy road of Breast Cancer. My children and I thank them from the bottom of our hearts.

We know that God is Still Speaking!



Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Power of Rehabiliation

Last week I was invited to attend a patient reunion at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Sunrise Florida. I was a patient at HealthSouth after I completed chemotherapy to treat the Brain Tumor I was diagnosed with in November 2014. Once the course of chemotherapy was completed, I was debilitated and needed help with all of my activities of daily living.

Being admitted to the inpatient program was the last thing I wanted to do, but as a nurse and a case manager, I knew I needed help and the inpatient program was the best way for me to get that help as it would be an intensive program that would help me improve.

So, one day in early April, I called the HealthSouth facility near my home. I talked to the Director of Case Management and explained what was happening and that I needed her help. She got me an appointment with the Physiatrist so he could evaluate me and determine a course of treatment. Once he evaluated me, he agreed that I needed inpatient rehabilitation and would contact my hematologist/oncologist to discuss his plan of care. Once he got the ok, I was scheduled for admission. 

The plan was for me to be there for two weeks. After two weeks, I would be re-evaluated to see what the next steps would be.  During those two weeks, I learned how to walk in spite of having bilateral foot drop and neuropathy in my legs. I learned how to use my hands as they were also impacted by the neuropathy. I received cognitive therapy that helped me learn how to improve my cognition, compensate for challenges I was having with organization, memory, and management of simple tasks. Most of all I regained confidence in myself.

The therapists were innovative and pushed me past what I thought I could do. They explained what they wanted me to do and pushed me to do the exercises that helped me improve. The other patients I encountered in the gym also motivated me as they worked to address their challenges. Those two weeks were hard, but they proved to be the best two weeks of my life. I learned what I needed to do to heal and found that by following the therapist’s directions I improved and was able to get back to a functional person.

After I left the inpatient unit, I went to outpatient therapy to continue my program. Over the next few months, I became stronger and was able to perform all of my activities of daily living by myself. My husband was there to help, but I no longer told him “I can't-do it” but started to say, “Let me try it.”  

As I sat and listened to the other patients who spoke at the reunion and shared their stories about how they came to HealthSouth, how they progressed in their programs, and how they are doing today, I was overwhelmed and humbled to be among them. A number of patients had strokes, some had catastrophic injuries and others had various complex conditions that left impaired in various ways.

What was amazing to me was their positive attitudes and their resilience. Most were doing well and had gotten back to their lives despite lasting impairments. Some were still working to get back. Many were still in therapy or were waiting for prosthetics and other equipment that would help them to move forward.  

Most patients could talk for themselves, but a few needed help as they could not talk or could not hold the microphone themselves. Family members filled in for them to share their experiences and how they were doing today. Family support is an important part of the rehabilitation process. It was evident from the various people who spoke how they too were impacted.  

All expressed their gratitude to the therapists and staff who helped them get to where they are today. It was fulfilling to look around the room at the therapists, the case managers and the other members of the HealthSouth Staff. Many had smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes as each person shared their experience. They were proud of their work and how they helped so many ‘move on’ despite their complex conditions.

As I have said before to those who have followed my journey in Nurse Advocate, I know I am not the person I was before the Brain Tumor, but I am grateful to be alive and to do the things that I am able. Going through a life-altering event, helps you understand what is important and how little things really do matter.  

I was happy to attend the patient reunion at HealthSouth and grateful to the entire team for their work and dedication.

Be well! 

PS. I wrote a post on resilience on April 16, 2016, after my rehabilitation journey. If you missed it, here is the link