Sunday, April 19, 2009

"The Power of Two"

After my mother's craniotomy for a subdural hematoma several years ago, she made rapid progress and was transferred to the rehab unit. Unfortunately, shortly after playing several hands of bridge with visiting friends, she developed a fever and chills and was diagnosed with c. diff sepsis.

The hospitalist came right over, started IV fluids and antibiotics, and breezed on out. My friend Brenda, the unit's only RN, and I looked at one another.

"Are you okay with her staying here?" I asked.

"It's just me and 20 patients," she replied. "I don't think I have time to give her the care that she'll need."

Fortunately, I caught up with the doctor, and he agreed to transfer Mom to the ICU. A good thing too as bacterial sepsis is not a rehab floor matter. I wondered what would've happened if I hadn't been there at the time. And I wondered that again several days later when the specialist missed the fact that Mom was going in and out of atrial fibrillation on the ICU monitor. And I marveled how anyone survives a hospitalization without an advocate on hand.

We are fortunate, therefore, that Brian and Gerri Monaghan have written a moving account of their own journey through life-threatening illness and advocacy, "The Power of Two". Not only is this book a compelling, entertaining, and (at times) tear-jerking account of love and loyalty in sickness and in health, it is a step-by-step, tip-by-tip, how-to manual for all of us who will face a serious illness or care for someone in that situation. And, through my life roles as doctor, wife, daughter, mother, and friend, I can tell you that will absolutely be all of us.

I'd like to say that I'm going to keep this book on my shelf for my next advocacy adventure, but I plan to give it away to a friend who was diagnosed last week with cancer. With the Monaghans on their team, and this guidebook in hand, she and her family will be able to stand up and advocate for what they need.


KGMom said...

Title of the book you reference is a clever play on The Power of One (a recent blog subject for me).
I agree that people need advocates in the hospital. I don't have clinical training, but have been around health professionals for a good part of my career. My mother's 6 week hospital stay, much of it in the ICU, was an education for me. Sadly, it ended with her death.

Haralee said...

Having been a pharmaceutical sales rep for over 20 years in the same city when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I often asked to friends and family, what does the average person do? The language can be less than common. The hospital I went through now has cancer advocates, but the day in day out illness, advocacy is really needed. I look forward to reading the book. Thanks for the reco

JeanMac said...

I, too, will get the book.Thanks.