Previous month:
August 2010
Next month:
December 2010

In the Moment

Sunset

Very soon, there will not be enough space on forms for me to fill out the number of surgeries that I have had.  I am not yet 40.

I am not complaining, these kinds of things happen, and for the most part there is little that I could have done in my past to have prevented any of these surgeries.  

My tonsils?  Well, they just got too big and by the age of 6 the doctor wanted them out.

At 19 a disc in my back degenerated so badly that my right leg was starting to go numb and give out.  I am not sure that I could have changed that.

Three knee surgeries happened due to a stupid skiing accident on a day when I did not even want to go skiing.  I suppose I could have changed this - I could have not gone skiing that day.  I could have taken a different trail down the mountain (I'm sorry, HILL, as we were skiing in Massachusetts...), and there are dozens of other little decisions that could have been made to stop the incident from occurring, but none the less, it happened.  And life goes on.

A hole in my heart... born with it.  Congenital heart defects happen, and I do not know of any ways to stop them.  Many people have asked me, "Well, how did you find out about it?"  A simple one word response:  "I had a stroke."  And I could not have stopped the stroke, because it had to do with the heart defect.

And now I am pretty fired up, because I get to have another knee surgery.

You almost have to laugh at all of this.  Almost.  Because if you didn't you would sit down in a corner and cry because the entire situation is pretty pathetic.  However, I am not the kind of person to sit in the corner and cry.  I am not the kind of person to sit in the corner and complain.  I would rather be in the middle of it all, changing things for the better, and making a conscious decision to live my life in the moment, and know that for that moment, it is going to be alright. 

 


Frequent Patient Card

I should be used to it by now... the waiting, the anticipation, the news, the no news, the anxiety, and perhaps most prominent of all, the frustration.  Yes, after all of my numerous visits, countless tests, blood draws, scans, xrays, MRIs, I still hold out hope that the next time it will be different.  But more often than not, I am disappointed.

I am a repeat customer at my hospital.  If any one of my doctors spent time reading over my chart, they would see that I am an excellent client - good for them, bad for me.  Three knee surgeries, stroke, open-heart surgery, pneumonia, all within in the past 6 years.  Pretty good stuff, right, and for someone who has not even reached the age of 40.  And lucky me, I managed to do something to my knee again, two days ago.

Not just a little something, but something so painful that I am unable to put weight down on my leg. So painful that it keeps me up at night, and so painful that just looking at stairs causes panic.  You might say, well I am a klutz or I need to take better care of myself.  That is the irony of it all - low blood pressure, no smoking, and a fitness instructor, so stuff like this should just not happen.

But let's get back to the doctors, and my frequent "shopping" card at my hospital.  It takes very little for a doctor to look at my chart and see that when I am calling and asking a question, I am not trying to be difficult, but simply looking for a response.  I do not think that it is too much to ask that I receive a response in 24 hours.  So when I called my orthopedic doctor a while back and left a message that I was in a considerable amount of pain and it would be helpful to have the results, I was less than thrilled when I had not heard anything by the next day.  I called back almost 48 hours later and was told that in order to find out my MRI results I would have to speak to radiology, and my orthopedic doctor would be given another message but that he was really busy (yes, I am aware of this, the first time I met with him I waited in the office for 2 1/2 hours...)  Radiology told me they would not give me the results as my doctor needed to give them to me, and so I was being bounced around like a ping-pong ball.  Oh, as far as my pain goes, they told me to increase the Advil and I could come in for a cortisone shot.  Um, no thanks.  I have had one of those (2 in fact) and they don't work.  Neither, for that matter, does the Advil... And I informed them that I really looked forward to coming in and waiting to be seen.  It just rocks.

I suddenly was reminded of 2006 and the preparation for my heart surgery.  I was not given direct answers, and often the answer that most people agreed upon was a run around response.  So, I consider myself an "expert" in the medical system, and I am continually disappointed.  There should be some kind of points card for frequent visitors (patients) at hospitals.  You know, those of us who unfortunately are more familiar with some aspects of the medical care system than our own doctors are.

I know that my circumstances are by no means unique.  Sadly, my situation (the lack of response, apathy, and wait time) probably happens to most people.  Why is it that when a doctor treats patient with respect that it is cause for celebration?  Or when a patient is seen within 5-10 minutes of the scheduled appointment it is considered "on time"?  Yes, there are many other variables at play here, and I am well aware of these (patients can be late too etc), but as a frequent patient I think that expectations and outcomes should be higher. 


Hearts and Tarts

Lily has been working with the American Heart Association to educate individuals on the signs and symptoms of stroke since her personal experience in 2006.  An avid member of the fitness industry who still teaches four classes a week, Lily had just finished instructing a step aerobics class when she suffered from a stroke.  After four days in the hospital, doctors discovered a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect, an ASD, an atrial septal defect.  As she considered her options and made the difficult decision to undergo open-heart surgery to have the hole closed, Lily realized the importance of education and research around stroke awareness.  Following a full recovery, she contacted the AHA and has been a dedicated advocate ever since, including a recent appearance on Capitol Hill to speak to members of Congress about funding, education and research.

Health and fitness have always been a large part of Lily’s life, and her work in this industry included managing health clubs and working in the Bahamas and Mexico for Club Med before she entered into academic administration as the Assistant Director of the Harvard Business School’s Global Initiative.  For the past 7½ years, Lily has worked at MIT where she served as an advisor for the Chair of the Faculty in the President’s Office prior to her current role as the Manager for External Affairs at the Harvard – MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

In her free time, Lily runs two blogs.  The Queen of Hearts, focusing on health and fitness, is a light-hearted, but inspirational space about life and love.  The Queen of Tarts, centering around her passion for food, shares recipes, stories and tales from a culinary queen.  With a Master’s in Intercultural Relations and fluency in three languages, Lily is also an ardent traveler and photographer, and currently lives in Boston’s South End.

When she’s not working, teaching or writing, Lily can be found baking in the South End, exploring new cultures, and most importantly, using her voice as a resource to help others suffering from stroke or heart disease have rich lives full of laughter.