Patient expertise…What does it require?…

Ms. Bushbuck and growing baby come to call.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

They often stop by for pellets, apples, and carrots.

Note: Load shedding is back on.  We expect a 2 .5 hour outage within the hour.
We apologize for the lack of photos.  This morning’s rain and the trip to Nelspruit made photo-taking difficult.

With rain throughout the area, we decided to leave earlier than planned to make our way to Nelspruit for my first “after-care” visit with the thoracic surgeon who performed the triple coronary bypass a mere 17 days ago.

I’d made a list on my phone of my areas of concern which included the following:

  • Burning feet at night – What I’d assumed…peripheral neuropathy, at times diagnosed after this type of surgery, usually resolving in a few months.
  • Pain in right chest wall – A torn muscle from moving my arm too quickly on the night the power was out.
  • Bleeding incision – As Dr. Phillip stated on Wednesday, it’s a hematoma underneath the which bleeds when irritated during s shower but not bleeding from deep inside my thigh.
  • Side sleeping (which I prefer) – May be done as long as it doesn’t cause pain.
And so it went. My pain and discomfort are entirely normal at this point. I felt a sense of relief knowing my symptoms were within the range of “normal” based on this point in time. 
We spoke with the woman who’d had the same surgery on the same day I’d had who went into “theatre” several hours before me. She’s nine years younger than me and was doing much better than I have. But the doc explained that each person is different, and recovery will follow accordingly.  
This knowledge provided is with more peace of mind, and now I’ll sit back, doing my exercises and feeling more confident that I will fully recover from this challenging surgery in due time. We don’t return to see the doctor until four weeks from today.  
I will be patient and not push it too hard, gradually adding to my activity level, eating healthy meals, rest as needed, and maintaining a positive state of mind.
Speaking of being patient, today I’m posting my perception over this past week as to what it takes to be an excellent patient to my exceptional caregiver, Tom, making his tasks a little easier over this long haul which could prove to be as long as three months.
  1. The tone of voice -Sure, it hurts. Sure, it’s tough to get out of a chair, off the sofa, or into and out of bed when using arms and elbows are prohibited over these first few weeks. We don’t realize how much we depend on our arms and hands to assist us in moving from one position to another, from one room to another, etc. The tone of voice in asking for assistance is everything.  Instead of saying, “I need help,” how about, “Honey, can you help me stand up?” This pleasant tone may make all the difference in the world in the enthusiasm of the caregiver in assisting in all areas.
  2. No whining, whinging, complaining – The caregiver can’t change the terrible circumstances, nor can they make the pain disappear. Complaining provides no benefit other than when a groan or moan is precipitated by certain actions. After all, we are humans and tend to make it known to all surrounding parties that a certain task is difficult, exhausting, or downright impossible.
  3. Expressing thankfulness – It’s a huge responsibility to be a caregiver and seldom includes remuneration among couples or close parties. A heartfelt “thank you” goes a long way, especially when accompanying the completion of any task together. One can never say “thank you” too many times in a day, here again using a pleasant and sincere tone of voice.
  4. Don’t criticize how household tasks are performed, which generally the patient may have done. Each individual has their way of doing things, and attempting to “re-educate” the caregiver is unkind and selfish.
  5. Don’t complain about meals – Perhaps the patient was the sole preparer of food and meal planning.  Suddenly this task is taken over by the caregiver who a). May not know how to cook or b). Doesn’t enjoy cooking. Firstly, eat the food prepared as long as it fits within the parameters of any special meals as prescribed by the doctor. Secondly, make positive statements to the caregiver about flavor, presentation, or ease used in preparing the meals. Thirdly, if the caregiver asks what you’d like to eat, choose simple and easy to prepare items, not fancy recipes that require time and attention.  If there is something special you’re craving, ask the caregiver to find such prepared items on their next trip to the market. Try to suggest meals you know you’ll both enjoy rather than the caregiver deeming it necessary to cook two separate meals.
  6. Bathing, dressing, showering – Most likely, based on your condition, performing these daily rituals on your own makes the caregiver’s job much more manageable. Only ask for assistance in those areas you find dangerous to do on your own or complex during this period. Do not attempt to perform tasks on your own that only exacerbate your medical issues. You’re not doing either of you a favor.
  7. Each day set aside time when your needs are minimal to allow the caregiver a break – This may be while you nap, read or play a game on a device. Most likely, the caregiver is experiencing some stress, and a designated rest period for them may be all it takes to keep them upbeat.
  8. During periods of ill health or during recovery, there’s never a time that expressing love, affection, and gratitude doesn’t serve you both well. A gentle hug, a tender kiss, or a kind word or compliment will never be lost during this period and, of course, well into the future.
Memories of this recovery period can be a pleasant extension of an already great relationship. Negative comments, behavior, and attitude will ultimately tarnish the relationship.
And so, dear readers, we end today’s post with these thoughts in mind and hope, should you ever be the caregiver or patient, you can do so with grace, dignity, and a bit of humor thrown in on the side.
Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, March 1, 2018:

This is most likely a lone male elephant as explained here: “Male or bull elephants have very different social needs than the females. In the wild, males leave or are driven out of the family group as they approach sexual maturity. Males spend as much as 95% of their lives alone or in loose association with other bulls.” For more, please click here.

Comments and responses Patient expertise…What does it require?…

  1. Linda Reply

    Great to read you post today Jessie with your up date news and help for care givers. Can't wait to see you and Tom again in a few days

    • Jessica Reply

      Thank you,dear Linda! We learn so much asee go along in life. Hope to see you again soon, too.
      Lots of love,

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