Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Stroke Surivival ~Is Everybody on the Same Page?

Happy Easter, y'all! It's a beautiful Resurrection day full of hope and promise.

I got to thinking about while hopping from doctors and everybody on the same page in your care plan? What happens in an emergency? Are they really prepared? Are they armed with the proper information?

For instance, I know mine are because I carry a printed sheet with me at all times for me and my husband. What's on this sheet, you may ask and I'll tell.

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • List of medications
  • List of allergies- drugs and others
  • List of doctors, their specialty, with phone #s and addresses
  • Current medical conditions
  • Past medical conditions and surgeries
  • Locations where copies of Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, living wills, DNR are on file, and emergency contacts.If not carried. I had my husband sign two copies while being notarized.
  • Shrink it down and laminate it if possible.
 I take these sheets with me to all my doctors and update as necessary. In  case of an emergency, the emergency team has access to information they might need to save your life. I wear an Medic-Alert necklace and had engraved on it, "check pocket for list."

I never keep it in a purse. It's always in my pocket and I'll tell you why. Think about a bad car accident scene. Everything is thrown all over the place. I want whoever needs this information to find it and save my life not search for my purse. If I end up in the water, it's laminated. No ink running everywhere making it unreadable.

When time is of the essence and minutes count in whether you live or die, this is very important. Even if it isn't a case of an emergency, everyone is on the same page including me. I even gave a copy of my info packet to my Podiatrist! He might never use it or need it, but if he does he'll have it.

A case in point. My mother had a routine visit to her family practice doctor. She went into respiratory arrest. Granted, he knew she had a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, but if he didn't have a copy or my father didn't, by law, he'd have to try and bring her back. No matter that she was eaten up with cancer. It covers his butt until the paperwork presented itself.

Another case in point. My husband cannot be injected with adrenaline without a heart team standing by. His cancer forms tumors throughout his body comprised of adrenal tissue. You give him adrenaline and it's like stomping your foot on the gas pedal of your car during rush hour. A very bad idea. His whole endocrine system goes into warp drive. Think of it as twenty-six adrenal glands instead of just one. Fun, huh? But this is important information the treating team needs to know.

Having worked as an RN/Paramedic in both ambulances and life flight helicopters, I can't tell you how many times I wished I had this information available. I still realize the importance after almost thirty years of not being in the field.

Another thing to think about and do. Arrange for copies of the above paperwork are kept on file in your charts or in the database at all your doctors' offices, EMS, and hospitals. Most will give you a card on where to locate the file with that information. You won't always be where you can get to these items in an emergency. Otherwise it wouldn't be an emergency, would it? Think about it as your emergency kit and don't leave home without it.

Remember, in an emergency or other times...
  • You may not always be able to speak for yourself or your spouse.
  • You may not remember and forget something vital
  • If someone questioned your authority to speak on behalf of the patient.
A word or two about the last one. Since HIPAA came into effect, everyone questions everything. I ran into an issue with this while I was hospitalize after my stroke. I am my husband's DPOAHC (durable power of attorney for health care) and his general power of attorney.

There I was stuck seventy plus miles from home, and my husband needed a prescription for morphine. It does no good for my husband to call the doctor, he can't hear to answer questions by telephone. Our daughter tried talking to the nurse as me. I know illegal as all get out, but this was a desperation move. The nurse caught her and even though she understood the situation they had to hear the request from my husband or myself. She ended up putting him in the car, driving to the doctor's office with him, and getting the prescription. She then ran into the same situation at the pharmacy. Morphine is a controlled substance.

I just never thought about this situation before. I've since remedied this by placing all four of my daughters on a separate DPOAHC for both of us. Not to supersede mine but in case of emergency when I'm not available. Have you thought about if anything happened to you who would take over in your absence?

My #2 daughter held up her power of attorney and laughed a maniacal chuckle, "I can pull the plug now. You're in my hands!"
She's always the comedian and not that we would have expected anything less from her after such a serious conversation. She sent me this card afterwards to carry on the laughter. It's so true.

 But we do know she'll abide by our wishes also. All of them will. Your choice of whom you choose is important and not to be bestowed lightly. This is a decision of total trust. 

This blog has very little to do with stroke recovery, but is important. If you haven't thought about it, do. The clock is ticking. If you're all set, then hunky-dorry it's time for some fun! Party time. Let's do the Hockey Pokey. You put your right foot in...


  1. All of this is too true. Those who haven't dealt with it in come form don't have a clue how hard it can be. I have and we do have info available for both mothers and each other. Thanks for a timely reminder, Jo.

  2. So true, Jo. After my Dad died, we made sure I was POA on all of my Mom's bank, legal, and health documents.

    No one likes to think of these things, but when you need them, it's too late to figure out who should be doing what, or what the patient actually wants.

    1. Lara, my thoughts exactly, but if you aren't available who is your second?


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