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Sunday, September 27, 2015

The View from a Nurse’s Perspective: “Spotlight on Nursing”




I usually don’t watch the Miss America Pageant, but this year I tuned in as I had heard that one of the contestants was a nurse and I wanted to see how she did. As I watched the show nurse Kelley Johnson, from Colorado went against tradition and instead of singing, dancing or playing an instrument for the talent segment of the pageant, shared her talent in a moving monologue about being a nurse.

Kelley told a story about Joe, a patient she cared for in the hospital where she worked. She and Joe talked many nights as she spent time helping him to settle down from the nightmares that he had as a result of his Alzheimer disease.  The story showed how they helped each other and realized how valuable each were. Joe helped Kelley realize that she was not ‘just a nurse’ but was his nurse and the one member of the team who took the time to help him deal with his disabling condition of Alzheimer’s. Kelley helped Joe see that his disease did not define him and that he was very important to his family.  It was a touching story and showed the important role nurses play in today’s complex healthcare system. Every nurse could relate to this story as it told ‘our’ story. If you have not seen the monologue, click here.

In the end, Ms. Colorado did not win the Ms. America contest but came in third!

The next day, on one of the daytime TV show, The View discussed the highlights of the pageant. Leading the discussion was Michelle Collins who signaled out Ms. Colorado for producing a monolog where she ‘read her emails’ and talked about a patient with Alzheimer’s. In the background was a photo of Ms. Colorado in her scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck. Joy Behar looking at the photo said; 'why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope around her neck?" To see the discussion, click here.   

Following the show, nurses from across the country took to social media to voice their outrage of how Ms. Colorado was portrayed. New Facebook pages popped up and nurses from all over the country joined in to voice their outrage and took the time to clearly explain what they do every day as nurses. It was truly an unprecedented show of unity among nurses across all settings of health care system.

As I read the hundreds of touching and funny posts that came across my Facebook and Twitter feeds from nurses in various settings I realized how proud I was to be a nurse and started to think how we as a profession would harness this show of unity and mobilize the country’s 3.1 million nurses to address the challenges facing our complex healthcare system.

Then I recalled a national nursing organization that I am involved and realized this was a perfect way for nurses to keep the momentum going and harness the power that nurses have. The organization is National Nursing Network Organization.

If you have not heard about this dynamic organization, take a minute and visit the website. Here you will find the work that the National Nursing Network Organization is doing in an effort to pass federal legislation know as The National Nurse Act of 2015 which will designate the same individual currently serving as the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the U.S. Public Health Service as the National Nurse for Public Health. As this effort takes Federal Legislation, two Bills have been introduced and are gathering bipartisan support in the House and the U.S. Senate.  The House Bill is H.R 379 (click here to read). The Senate Bill is S. 1205 (click here to read)

The Bills would elevate the National Nurse for Public Health as a national advocate for nursing actions to champion public health initiatives in all communities, The CNO/National Nurse for Public Health would promote the nationwide shift from our current sick system to one that focuses on prevention in order to improve health outcomes.  Important responsibilities include:

  •  Collaboration with the Office of the Surgeon General to identify and address national health priorities;
  • Serve as a visible national spokesperson for engaging nurses in leadership, policy, and prevention efforts; 
  • Encourage health professionals to work with community programs to improve health;
  • Increase public safety and emergency preparedness; and
  • Prepare and submit a biennial report to Congress on nurses serving in the U.S. Public Health Service. 
The National Nursing Network Organization is a grassroots effort that is made up of volunteers, led by the National Nursing Network Organization’s Board of Directors and Advocacy Team of which I am a member. 

To promote this effort, members visit our Legislative leaders in Washington DC as well as in their home offices several times a year.  Significant progress has been made to move this important legislation forward, but there is still work to do. One of the main requests we receive from Legislative leaders when we visit with them in D.C or their Home Office is to have their constituents contact them to show their support of this legislation. 

Your voice is critical to helping to show the power that nurses have in improving the health of the people in our country. That is why I am asking for your support and ask that you contact your Legislative Representatives in the House and the Senate and let them know that you support The National Nurse Act of 2015.

To assist you, the National Nursing Network Organization has put together the tools that you need to take action. Here are your Action Steps:

1.     Read the Bills: (click here to access). It won’t take too long!

2.     Visit the Take Action Page (click here to access). This is the page where you will find
a.      Information on how to contact your Congressional Representative in the House of Representative and Your U.S. Senator in the U.S. Senate
b.     A sample letter and phone script with talking points is also available. You can use to show your support.

Thank you in advance for sharing your voice for all nurses and for your help in supporting the National Nurse Act of 2015! Please feel free to share this post with your colleagues, family, and friends and ask them to support this important legislation. . 

If you have any questions or need assistance please contact me!  

Anne Llewellyn, RN-BC, MS, BHSA, CCM, CRRN
Nurse Advocate
Email Address: allewellyn5@bellsouth.net
Cell: 954-254-2950

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Final Transition of Care


  
                                                  Uncle Dave, after he finished his new Frozen Puzzle


Today, as a result of advances in technology, health, and personal care are more complicated than ever. The healthcare team can work miracles on the most complicated patients, yet at the same time struggle with how to manage and communicate with patients and families on how to make their final transitions in a safe and comfortable manner once aggressive treatment is no longer working.

Recently our family said goodbye to our Uncle Dave. Dave was a man who brought joy to those who knew him. Dave was a special needs person who required lifelong care and supervision, yet despite this led a wonderful life. His parents raised him to be as independent as possible. After their death, Dave lived in his family home for an additional 15 years which was a tribute to them. He then to moved to his brother’s home where he was part of a caring circle of family and friends. About six years ago, Dave came to live with my husband and I in South Florida. 

Dave was a man of routines but loved to laugh and remember his parents, brother, and friends. He loved jigsaw puzzles, listening to Polka music and watching his favorite shows on TV. Dave had a great memory. Even when you thought he was not listening to a conversation about a relative or friend, he would come up with a name, or an address that no one else could remember.

Over the past few months, Dave’s health declined and required admissions to the hospital for various problems almost weekly. Eventually, his speech became slurred; he was not eating and was mostly in bed. On his last hospitalization, the doctor recommended that we consider Hospice as he was not responding to aggressive treatment. We knew our goal was to keep him comfortable when he no longer was benefitting from aggressive care. So we agreed to have Hospice step in. 

As a result, Dave was able to come home where he was comfortable. Due to labored breathing, he was put on crisis care which allowed him to have nursing care 24/7. The hospice nurses were informative, caring and gentle. It was comforting to my husband and I to see Dave resting comfortably. Two days later, on August 27th at 7 am Dave transitioned quietly.

We were lucky that we had a doctor who recommended hospice care. It was the right decision at the right time. Yet, many patients and family members do not get to experience hospice or palliative care and suffer (many times needlessly at the end of their lives). This is because talking about death is uncomfortable and as a result, the discussion is put off. 

For the same reason, members of the healthcare team don’t bring up alternatives to aggressive care such as palliative care or hospice care. This is unfortunate as these tools allow a person who has a chronic illness or a terminal condition  to receive care that can help manage their symptoms so they are comfortable as well as to receive support services that assist caregivers manage them and prepare for their final transition of care.

Preparation for the final transition is so important that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid are proposing paying physicians to ensure there is end-of-life counseling. This patient-centered policy is intended to support a careful planning process that will benefit the patient and the family. All members of the healthcare team will benefit from learning about the end of life alternatives both personally and professionally. To start you on your journey, I have included the following resources for you to review.

 References:

A Very Special Journey: Handbook from Hospice to inform and educate patients and family members about what to expect as patients experience their final transition http://hpbc.com/pdfs/literature/very_special_journey.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions for Palliative Care and Hospice Care http://palliativedoctors.org/faq

Optimal Healing Environments in Home Hospice and Palliative Care; http://www.cmsatoday.com/2015/08/18/optimal-healing-environments-in-home-hospice-and-palliative-care


National Decision Day: National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be. To learn more visit the website at http://www.nhdd.org


Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Atul Gawande. This is a book by Dr. Gawande that I would highly recommend. He reviews how we age and the challenges that come with aging. The book will make you think and allow you the opportunity to ensure your final transitions meet your goals. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

We Will Never Forget!


On September 11, 2001, four coordinated terrorist attacks against the United States forever changed the course of history. Today is the 14th anniversary of those attacks on our country by terrorists. Much has happened since this day to remind us that we live in a dangerous world, but I don’t think anyone who was alive on this date will forget the events of 9/11/2001. Take a minute to remember the day and say a prayer for peace as well as for all who were killed, injured or directly impacted.
To commemorate this date, I asked friends and colleagues on Facebook to share their memories of this day and how the events changed their lives.  I received a number of moving experiences from people from around the world and I wanted to share them in this post.  As you will see from reading them, everyone was going about their normal lives yet once they heard the news stopped what they were doing sat glued to a TV to follow the events.
As you read the following posts you will find each one to be thoughtful and sobering. If you would like to leave a comment about how the events of September 11, 2011, changed your life please feel free to leave in the comment section below or send to me via email at allewellyn5@bellsouth.net.
Also, if you have not done so today, please take a minute to remember all who lost their lives, were injured or impacted directly by the events of September 11th. Thank you.  

Post of Remembrance:

Anne Llewellyn: I was on my way to Portland Oregon for work. I was on an early American Airlines flight (7 am). I remember have a strange feeling as I waited to board the plane, but I could not put my finger on it. I was looking at all the people who were waiting and surprised at how many people were going across the country. We took off on time and stopped in Dallas Texas as scheduled. Our flight was supposed to go onto Portland but the stewardess came on the intercom and told us to all to take our luggage and belongings as there was going to have a plane change and the aircraft we were on was not going on. This was not unusual, so no one really thought about it. As we left the plane I called our office and found our receptionist was crying. I asked her what was wrong and she told me about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. As I listened I quickly walked to find a TV and saw the second plane hit the Towers. I stood in shock with so many others.
I called my husband to hear his voice and to let him know I was ok. He told me to try and get a hotel as there were going to be no flights for the next few days. So my next call was to our travel agent. She was able to get me a hotel close to the airport so I made my way over these. At the hotel, I met many fellow travelers. As it was a beautiful day, we sat by the pool and talked about the events. Once back in the room, I watched CNN to learn what was going on and why the attacks happened. A few days later as no planes were flying my husband  was ale to get me a bus ticket on the Greyhound bus to get home. Traveling across the country on the Greyhound bus was an experience. I was with several women who stayed together and supported each other.  Once home, I recall feeling very lucky.

On every flight since 9/11, I say a prayer that we will be safe. I will never forget that day.

Dyan Ruhana: I was at a workshop in Ft.Lauderdale, Florida. The instructor's demeanor changed, but I didn't know why. It wasn't until much later as I used the restroom did I see a television.It seems the instructor wanted to keep going. If she stopped, she then had to acknowledge that her brother was dead for he was on the top floor of one of the towers.

Ellen Fink-Samnick: Annually I post the reflection I wrote the evening of 9/11. I spent the day case managing patients, family members and working with valued team members, as I did every day. However, that day was dramatically different for I worked at Virginia Hospital Center, the hospital closest to the Pentagon. I used to cherish the view from the window immediately outside my office for it looked out on the Pentagon and toward D.C. Linda May Grobman published the piece last year in the New Social Worker. Here is the URL for those who would like to read it. http://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/such-bright-blue-skies-reflections-on-911/

Julie Fling Irons: I was on vacation in Northern Ireland. We have toured the Bushmills Distillery that morning and were just leaving the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge when we were told. My reaction was that they were describing a Tom Clancy storyline. This was 2 hours after the world knew. We did not see images for another 3 hours. Ireland went into mourning as they found out an Irish mother and her children were on one of the planes. We spend Friday, the world day of mourning, in Dublin. The whole city was shut down for the day. We made our way to the American Embassy and found a line with over a 3 hours wait to sign the condolence books. I always wish we had waited, but we had our 5-year-old daughter with us and she had just received 5 stitches in her elbow on 9/12 so we moved on. I found out upon my return that the US was Friday as usual, at least me colleagues were at work in DC. I don't have a single US paper about the tragedy, but we brought home every European paper we could find. We will always remember where we were on that day. On the good news side, my 2nd granddaughter was born 1 year later to the day. Happy Birthday, Renee!
Erna van Rooyen: Hi Anne, while this is engraved in the hearts and memories of millions. These millions reach much further than the USA borders. I were case managing at Linksfield Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa and just walked into my office when a colleague screamed NO ..... (with a few other words as well) we stormed out of our office to the foyer where the closest TV was and that is where we pretty much spend the rest of the afternoon. My brother, wife, and kids were to fly to Atlanta that evening immigrating to the USA. Needless to say that it postponed the whole leaving for them to February the next year. So yea, it touches everyone around the earth.
LeeAnn Giles Moore: I was at my desk starting my day when the news started to filter in. Wild rumors were flying along with all the unbelievable news reports. Trying to get Internet updates was futile as sites were crashing. My friend and mentor immediately thought ahead to the possible military response as her son was of an age where he might be called up. A large group of us just stood together and prayed. As soon as our employer dismissed us, I headed straight to pick my son up at daycare and tried to explain what was happening to a 4-year-old. 14 years later, he still wants to join the military.

Johann Achim BeiBel: I was onboard Lufthansa flight LH 456 seat 16c en route to Los Angeles International. After 10 hours in the air we had to turn back, we had to stop for fuel in Island Keflavik KEF and finally back in Germany. My longest flight ever.

Editor’s Note: Thanks for sharing Johann. Did they tell you why you were turning back? I don't think we had access to the Internet at the time. Probably best you went back and not stranded somewhere. I am sure that was a stressful day for all of the airlines and passengers.

Johann Achim BeiBel: No, the pilot made a smooth U-Turn nobody realized that we are in our way back. The IFS with the moving map was shot down before - due to technical problems.....when the Captain told us that we are flying back he said something about an accident with a plane in NYC. But when we arrived at KEF for our pit stop we realized because of the many big planes standing in line for fuel that something terrible must have happened....

Cara Newman Fandel: I was getting ready for work. My boyfriend called to tell me what was happening and I thought it was some kind of joke. It took some time for the news to settle in me before I realized how horrible it was. I think I was in denial.

Pat Trefny Ford: Craig and I were at a conference in Reno, Nevada. We had driven down there from our home in Edmonds, WA. It was our 30th wedding anniversary and Craig had made reservations for us to spend the night and celebrate in Lake Tahoe. Needless to say,  our celebration was very low key that night. My sisters all live in CT and one of my brothers-in-law worked in NYC at the time. I was able to reach my sister and found out that he was safe. It took him over 2 days to get home. I will never forget that day and the solidarity this country achieved for a short time. We were all proud of our country then. Wish we had that solidarity and pride in our country back again.

Windy Williams: I was at work and it made me realize that we should never take anything for granted...Also Sept 11, 2005, was the best day of my life...I became a grandmother...No more sadness on this day we just feel blessed that God have us Marley on this day. She is such a special child and has visions of making this world a better place...Happy Birthday, Marley!

Sue Binder:  I was at Hackensack University Hospital and, unfortunately, we had a distant view of the WTT and the smoke coming from them, unfortunately, it was easy to see. We went into Emergency mode thinking that some Nurses would go over to help. Unfortunately, that request never came. It was a day I will never forget and send prayers for all involved!

Charlotte Moon: I was teaching at Driftwood Elementary. I received a call from home to turn on TV. I had it on until we were told to turn off by the principal of the school.

Donna Wallace: I was a Family Counselor for DHH students at Seminole Middle. The television showed the attacks happening. We were instructed to turn off the sets. Everyone was in shock.

Anne Llewellyn: posting for Cheryl Smith Rizk: The night before I had gone to a Tony Bennett/KD Lang concert and so I was running a little late to go into my office. I was listening to The Today Show and hear that a small plane had hit one of the towers--I poked my head around the corner to see what was up and saw the second plane hit. My first thought was--we are under attack. I called my husband who was working as a contractor for Sprint at the time and told him what had happened. By the time the plane had hit the Pentagon, he was pulling into our driveway--anyone who was not a Full-Time employee at Sprint was escorted off the Sprint campus--they were afraid of terrorism. I spent the rest of the day in front of the TV, I never went to my office. I was just amazed that life was going on--that the phones at my home care company were ringing, that customers were coming into my DME store, people were going to the grocery stores, etc. I knew our country was changed, forever. I remember watching over and over again the look on President Bush's face when he was told the news. I can only imagine what was going through his mind; will there be another attack, where is Barbara, where are my children, etc.? That is my memory.

April Chitwood Cordero: I was at work...preparing for our day of pain management and procedures.

Anne Llewellyn: posting for Silvia Lozano from the South of France, La Provence!! I was on my way to Del Rio, Texas with my parents because my aunt had passed away. We did not know what had happened because we left very early to leave Fort Worth and we were not listening to the radio. It was until we stopped for late lunch and walked into a Dairy Queen that we knew something was wrong. It was very silent while the TV was showing what had happened. Everyone was watching and some were crying. Our first thought was disbelief then sadness. We did not eat but got back into the car and listened to the radio all the way to our destination.

Wendy Hunt-Flanagan: I was in my den on the phone with my friend Deborah Ann when the first plane hit my heart sunk at that time.

Bonnie Zickraf: I was at work at a case management organization at the time and running from meeting to meeting that morning. Every time I came out of a meeting, someone would say OMG, a plane hit the towers. I came out of another meeting and someone else told me another plane hit the towers. Came out of another meeting and someone else told me that a plane hit the Pentagon. I immediately stopped and said "not our Pentagon!?" Several of us went out to lunch at a nearby restaurant that had TV sets and I could not, could not believe what I was seeing. Well, we all know the rest of the story...

Margaret Chu: I was in Manhattan working on 34th Street for a large managed care company, in the midst of an NCQA survey, sequestered in an interview room with the surveyors when the first tower went down. I stayed the night in a nearby hotel as all the bridges were closed. That evening was eerie as midtown Manhattan looked like a ghost town and felt like Twilight Zone with soldiers armed with rifles on army jeeps.... we could see the smoke from downtown Manhattan and people in a daze walking from the area in the earlier afternoon... as I was the survey coordinator, I also had to make sure the 5 surveyors from different parts of the country were OK ... How did it affect me? I think it affected me profoundly on a personal level. It made me realize how precious life was and what was truly important! Our Best Man Joey was in Tower 2 but made it out! Many others did not. Our prayers to all those who were not so fortunate on that day.

Vivian Weaver:  I was in Aruba in a meeting at the Bank. There were no televisions in the meeting room, but the managing director had the TV on in his office next to the meeting room. I remember him coming into the meeting room and tell us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We assumed it was a small plane and an accident and continued the meeting. A little while later, he informed us that a second plane hit. At that moment the meeting stopped, everyone was in shock and very upset. All the TVs in the Bank and in Aruba were being watched. I went to my office and tried to access CNN and other websites, they were all jammed. I gained access to Le Monde from France and watched there. I remember all parties and events in Aruba were canceled for about 10 days. The first time there was a social event it was a meeting of the Alliance Francaise (French Club) and there was a moment for reflection.

Renee LaFollette: I was in Houston Texas at work as I went in early to complete some reports for a meeting that morning. I was working at an MSO and I finally received a phone call from my boss telling me to have everyone go home. Later at home I watched the newscasts with everyone else wondering how on earth something like this could have happened. As they called for volunteers to provide medical care I was told I was not to even THINK of volunteering. There I was an Army trained Combat Support Hospital ER triage nurse and I was told by a HEALTHCARE company if I volunteered I would be fired. Needless to say I quickly found another job. I was devastated to not be able to respond and my heart broke for all those people that lost their lives and the families they left behind. I will never forget that day.

Emily McCrater:  I had just left my son at the bus stop and was getting ready for work. My mom called me and said to put on the news about the plane crash. As we were watching the Today Show, we saw the second plane. We were shocked. We went to work and I remember how there was hardly any traffic on US1 and we had the TV on all day. Everyone, even the homeless newspaper vendors, were in the shop with us glued to the TV. We couldn't wait to get our kids out of school and that evening everyone hugged their loved ones tighter and a little longer, and the community came together. It is a day I will never forget.

Cathy McMeekin Denson: I was driving to a rehabilitation facility to meet with a patient and heard uncertain shocking news on the radio. Upon entering the facility, several nurses and case managers were in the patient's room -- as we watched the TV, we were unable to believe what we were seeing and hearing. I will never forget it, the emotions of shock, fear, denial and then the sudden personal bond forming in the room, at that moment, among all. The patient; as devastating as his condition was held his head high, smiling, and sharing his pride, for America and our God. All hospital sounds that are so common to any facility stopped stood still and silence replaced this moment. I remember calling my company and letting them know. By the time I arrived at the office, several televisions were delivered. There are so many tears and unanswered questions. For weeks, I watch the news sleeping on the sofa, calling my Mom and daughters desperately wishing we lived in the same home, where we could hug and protect each other. This day in history shall never be forgotten.

Kathleen Fraser, I was having an early morning CMSA meeting at a Cracker Barrell in Katy, TX when the 1st plane hit the Tower. Horrible, horrible day!!!!

Elinor Adler: I was on my way to work listening to a tape on getting volunteers. On I-95, I noticed people in their cars had strange looks on their faces but didn't know why. When I got to my downtown Miami office, nobody was in sight because they were all in a guest office looking at the T.V. In disbelief, there was screaming and crying when the plane hit the towers. Only then did I find out what happened. We had to evacuate because I worked in a government office. As everyone else, I was in shock. It was the longest and scariest ride home since the McDuffie riots in Miami. I found peace later while visiting the site and then again visiting the new Memorial.

Lora McCann, I was working in an ophthalmology practice as business office supervisor. The patients were glued to the televisions and administration wanted me to turn them off. Crazy times! Glad my time in that practice was short lived!

Susan Woodward Sullivan: stated it is still hard to believe it actually happened.... Such a tragedy!  I was crying in front of my TV!

Stefany Almaden, I was trying to get to my office early that morning 5:45 AM PST. As a news buff myself, I always have the news on and it is the last thing I shut off before leaving. As I was doing that and preoccupied with the mounting work I had to leave early to clear, I thought it was a scene from a movie or something. I thought how sick can that be! Once I got in the car and drove off; news on again KNX (CBS radio), it hit me like a rock; my stomach gripped and I needed to throw up (sorry for being too graphic). I cried all the way to the office "shell-shocked" as it was PTSD for me; what I ran away from coming to the land I loved as a child and growing up. These ba$..ds are robbing people from their lives, peace, and joy of living in freedom...I'll never forget that day. It changed my life and my perspective on life as well as the value of communication with your loved ones. 

My son Danny had his birthday on that day and we want to celebrate it at his favorite Italian restaurant...Danny's lips were curled down and he said" Mom, I cannot be happy in this place when everyone around is so sad"...while it was wise; I wanted him to celebrate life but be sensitive to others...so, yes...never forget.

Donald Pazour: I was with Washington DC based colleagues visiting our branch office in White Plains, New York. So tragic, so frightening.  Still hard to comprehend. I pause with thoughts and prayers for those suffering the losses most closely.

Janet Minard Coulter: I was at work and we gathered around the training TV so we could watch the news It was so sad. It was also my friend’s birthday and we had planned to take her put for lunch. I was all for canceling lunch, but she said. Well, we have to eat anyway so we went to lunch and it was very odd. The restaurant was pretty empty. That evening we were scheduled to sample wedding cake in preparation for our oldest daughter’s wedding. I told my daughter we needed to reschedule as we were having a national crisis. She was not very happy. Called the bakery and they were closed. The day ended when I ran over my kitten in the driveway. The accident broke her hip. She almost did not make it, but she is still alive and well. A day I will never forget. 
Thanks again to all who contributed. 

We Will Never Forget! 


Saturday, September 5, 2015

You Gotta Have Goals


Most of us have been told since we were young that it is important to set goals.  Goals provide the direction we need on the journey we call Life. Our goals may change as we age or be redirected in the face of challenges, but keeping your goals in mind can help you to get back on track when dealing with life’s speed bumps. 

Many people, when faced with a life-changing event, feel that they miss the opportunity to set goals. There are good reasons for this feeling this way.  Fear, anxiety, pain and a number of other challenges can impact your ability to think about next steps. Yet, many times a diagnosis or health emergency can help motivate us into setting goals, getting our lives in order, and taking the time to enjoy life.  

When I was in the hospital, I was worried about how my life would proceed with my brain cancer diagnosis and the effect the treatments had on my mobility.   I voiced these fears to my doctor and he felt it might help if I met with a psychiatrist. I was leery at first, as I did not want to be ‘labeled’ as depressed but agreed to see the psychiatrist. I was lucky as the doctor my team called in was able to see me while I was an inpatient. My husband and I were able to sit down with the psychiatrist in my room and discuss my diagnosis and other issues that were on my mind. She asked me how I felt about losing my job due to my condition.   We talked about the fears I had about recurrence and the fact that currently I could not walk or drive. Having an opportunity to vocalize my feelings allowed me to process all of this information better myself.

In addition to my fears, I was also able to share some of the things I was hoping to do as I recovered. I let her know that I was excited about a trip we had planned to celebrate my husband’s 60th birthday and how I hoped I could still make this trip. She asked me a number of questions that helped her to determine how I was handling things. When we were wrapping up the meeting, she told me that she did not think I needed any medication. It was her opinion that I was handling the current situation well. She said she was impressed that I had goals and was looking forward to the future despite this untimely interruption. She said many of the things I was feeling were normal and I needed to give myself time to work through the changes and my fears.

Today, I still have many of the fears that I expressed to the doctor. But as I get more ‘control’ over my condition, and time moves on, I feel more positive and have begun to put many of the goals that I have into action. The blog you are now reading was one of those goals!

Goals:

Having goals is important for many reasons and allow us to think about things that we want to do instead of the challenges that may limit our abilities. Goals help you put your priorities in order and live more in-the-moment. Don’t feel like you have to meet every goal all at once. List them on a sheet of paper; put them in order of priority for yourself and your family. Take the time to talk to those close to you about your goals. Sharing your thoughts allows others to help and to better understand your wishes. 

To help you better understand what I mean, I have listed some goals that you might want to consider if you  are living with a new diagnosis, a chronic condition, have suffered a life changing illness or injury, or even if you’re healthy. So here it goes….feel free to send me goals that you have changed during challenging times and how they helped you heal. You can reach me at allewellyn5@bellsouth.net or leave comments below so others can benefit.

       Learn all you can about your condition: Give yourself time to do this, ask your doctors and/or members of your medical team for information that will help you understand your condition. Many people go onto the internet for information but without much direction. There is a lot of information on the Internet that might not be accurate or relate to you, so asking your doctor or team for sites they recommend will help you find reliable, pertinent information.
       Take charge: Do more for yourself if you can. Some examples are taking your medication yourself or following up on appointments. You might want to organize your bills so that you can review them to ensure your insurance company is paying and if you owe anything you will if the services were provided. Bills can have errors, so make sure you check them carefully. If you have questions you can then call the provider or the insurance company. Try to be as self-sufficient as you can.
       Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many people want to help you and it is important to let them. Make a list of things that you might need from the store and when someone asks what they can do, show them the list.  Help from family and friends can allow you to get outdoors once in a while as well as give your caregivers some needed time off. 
       Find out what you can do to improve your condition. This might be exercising to build up your strength after being in bed for a prolonged period of time, or learning how to test your sugars if you are a newly diagnosed diabetic. Many people have to monitor their blood pressure to see if they need to stay on their medication or determine if it needs to be increased or decreased. Depending on what needs to be done, ask your team for the equipment and instructions on how to perform the task. Today patient education is very important and should be part of the plan of care, so don’t feel that you are bothering someone when you ask for help.
       Take the time to read a book, color, paint, or finish up a project you might have started a while ago. Doing these things can take your mind off of yourself, lift your spirits and provide a sense of accomplishment.
       Get your affairs in order. Many people don’t have a Last Will and Testament. Having an illness or an injury can be the impetus that will spur you into action. See an attorney and get your affairs in order. This will help you and your family if anything happens to you or you are not able to express your wishes.  Not having a Will puts your estate (even if you have a small estate) at risk. Taking care of this early on is very important and will give you peace of mind. 
       Set up a healthcare proxy and inform the person you choose what you want to happen in case you cannot make decisions yourself. Having your proxy and your family understand your wishes allows them to speak to the medical team and ensure that the plan of care is meeting your goals. This will be part of what the attorney will assist you with when you set up your Will. When choosing a healthcare proxy, choose someone you trust and share your wishes with them as well as your family so all are aware. Knowing that you have this taken care of will also allow you to have peace of mind. 
       Make amends with people you may have had challenges with in the past. You can do this by sending a note, an email or calling on the phone. Doing this allows you to put your affairs in order. This may seem hard, but in the end, you will feel better and be more at peace.
       If you are spiritual and or religious, take the time to renew your faith. Having something to believe in can help you cope with the challenges of an illness or injury. It is never too late to renew your faith and make amends with God. Many religious organizations have programs where people can come to your home if you cannot go out.
       Keep in touch with family and friends to renew your friendships and your relationships.  Invite people to visit you so they see you when you are alive. This can be uplifting for you and the person. Call people and stay in touch. Today with email and social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, this is easier than ever.
       If you have a family event coming up, prepare to attend if you are able. Whether it is a wedding, a birth, a birthday party, or another event, going will mean a lot to your family and friends. It will also give you something to look forward to and allow you to feel more connected.  Make sure you have the equipment you need to be safe when you travel and make the necessary arrangements. Your doctor’s office will assist you with the necessary equipment along providing any notes that you might need to travel so make sure you plan ahead so when the event comes you are ready.
       If you can take a vacation to a place you’ve always wanted to go to, do it. Don’t put things off. Remember that life is short and very unpredictable. So don’t put things off!
       Celebrate your successes even the smallest ones are important!

In closing, having goals can give you control at a time when you feel like life is spinning out of control. Setting goals helps you focus on what is important to you. Make a list and keep it close to you so you can add to the list or check things off as you achieve your goals.


Good luck and don’t forget to set goals!