Wait…A Robot is Doing My Surgery?

For several years I have had medical symptoms leading my physician to recommend a complete hysterectomy.  My family medical history, my Mom having uterine cancer and then dying from ovarian cancer intensified my physician’s concern and recommendation.  My surgery was completed in a little less than 2 hours by my physician and a Da Vinci robot.  The reduction of infection and mishaps utilizing technology is amazing.  It is an outpatient procedure and I was in and out of the hospital in less than 30 hours.  I literally have 4 teeny weeny cuts covered in surgery tape and that is it.  My Mom had a scar from her belly button the entire length of her abdomen.  Talk about progress – it is amazing!  And the best news, NO cancer.

I’m blessed to be part of a company that makes this process easier for our clients every day and now appreciate it even more than I did!

Step 1: Hire a Care Manager!

I am grateful to have a care manager.  One of our primary services as a care manager is to complete an assessment with the client, gather all their medical history and records directly from their physicians, and help them organize it and communicate it succinctly with their healthcare providers.  The information helps us make recommendations for home safety, medical equipment to make tasks easier, technology, programs and community services to enhance their quality of life, and to coordinate those much-needed conversations with their Surrogates.  It is also everything you need to provide to your health care providers.

Having a third party involved, such as a care manager, helps keep everyone focused on what’s best for the client and what are realistic expectations of a Surrogate.  It avoids everyone assuming what is going to be done and helps them understand what can and will be done.  It is the client’s best opportunity of making sure they get to live their life the way they want to and get the care they need.

How I used our Care Management services before going in for surgery?

My care manager helped me gather and organize all of the information I needed to provide to my surgeon. Yes, this is one of those times where what I don’t tell them may hurt me.

  • My complete medical history. This was more difficult than we initially thought since all but my current primary care physician has retired.
  • My current diagnosis’s – thank goodness not many.
  • A list of all physician’s I have seen in the last three years.
  • My list of medications as well as natural supplements I take.
  • My allergies.
  • My advance directives, including my Health Care Surrogate Designation.
  • My alcohol consumption.

The questions each health care provider asks are similar, but not exactly the same.   Seven times later of the same questions in a different order I was even more grateful for having all of the information at my fingertips.

How Care Management helped with my Discharge

Prior to discharge I watched a video specifically regarding my surgery with my Care Manager. It is important to have someone not on pain medication be there throughout the discharge process. (Wow, I had no idea how pain meds can effect you!)  I needed an advocate to help me ask the proper questions on the discharge plan and think of the items I wouldn’t have asked.

We made plans on how best to recover:

  • Examples of what I should call my doctor about.
  • Physical limitations to secure a good recovery.  How long until I can workout? How soon can I go back to the office?
  • Pick up the medications from the pharmacy or have them delivered to me at the hospital prior to leaving? (I chose to pick up my medication so I can leave the hospital sooner, thanks Care Manager.  It allowed me to be discharged hours sooner and maintain my medication records with the same pharmacy).
  • Scheduled a time for my follow up appointment. (With my care manager there we reviewed my calendar and coordinated a ride for my follow up appointment in real time).
  • Will I be able to be left alone at home or will I need assistance? (My husband has scheduled time off to be with me ?).

My entire experience was positive and my medical treatment was excellent, thank goodness!  However, it helped tremendously that I had a Care Manager gather all my medical records and I could lean on the Care Manager to clearly articulate my symptoms and how I feel.  And after the fact help me remember all the do’s and don’ts and instructions.   I can understand and give informed consent, and have the ability to follow instructions, but having a Care Manager there made sure that no step was missed and that I didn’t forget my responsibility.

I know if I live long enough I may lose some of those abilities or I may get a diagnosis that prevents me from being the optimal patient. How I prepare for that now will be critical for me later.  I am fortunate my family lives locally, however I know many families do not.  Appointing my Health Care Surrogate and Successor Surrogate is vital and taking the time, even now, to review my medical history, medications, lab results, potential concerns, etc.…. is something I must review with them.

Thank you to everyone who responded with great ideas of how to deal with my “Matchbook Crisis.”  I truly appreciate the feedback.  I will be moving forward with taking photos of the matchbook covers – before I have my big “Bonfire.”

Thank you for reading my newsletter, I truly appreciate it!  I’d love to hear your thoughts at lrc@agingwisely.com