It is more important to know where you are going, than how long it takes to get there.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Handbook...

Today I went to the hospital for my pre-op appointment. After a 30 minute wait in the surgery waiting area, they called my name. The surgery waiting area reminded me of an airport jetway, with a television monitor listing all the patients in their varying states of operation: staging, operating, recovery, etc... landing, at gate, arrived. I walked into a small office with a nurse who informed me that this was a phone pre-admission screening. What? Fotunately I had my handy, dandy notebook with my prescreening orders that did not list this appointment as a phone screening appt.

When you are diagnosed with cancer, the diagnoser should immediately give the diagnosee a handbook/organizer. When my mom had her knee replaced, she was handed a binder with everything she ever needed to know, need to schedule, and explanations. I understand that each cancer has a million variables that makes each case unique, but there are some important tools and information that I think would be universally useful.

I got so overwhelmed with papers and appointments that I made my own notebook. There are 5 dividers: Notes, Requistions, Lab Reports, Medication, & Instructions. Natuarlly, I also have a calendar in this notebook. It is quite the fashion accessory.

Notes: I take tons of notes. There is so much information to retain. On most days, even before cancer, I could barely remember what I had for dinner the previous night. These notes are vitally important when you move to the next doctor and have questions. It helps compose the questions ahead of time. Helpful Hint to Docs: Offer a paper and pen for your patients to take notes. Most are in shock and can't even think ahead to take notes.

Requisitions: These are the papers telling you where and when you need to be for the next test, scan, and appointment. These papers also give instruction as to whether you can eat, drink and be merry before the test/scan. Acting confused (key word acting,) when actually I felt quite smug, I presented a copy of the pre-op orders to the nurse, showing her that it did not indicate that the pre-op was to be done via phone. Helpful Hint to Docs: Why don't you put a picture of the scan, and explain what this particular scan is looking for in the body?

Lab Reports: The only lab report in this section was given to me by Dr. No Nickname. It is the diagnosis of the lobular-type tumor, aka cancer. I learned from Dr. Vanilla Bean that only 10% of all breast cancers are this type...naturally, I have to be different, can't be like everyone else and get the other 90%- type of cancer. Anyway, that would be boring. What?!

Medications: After being asked twice for a list of every medication that I have taken in the past year - including Tylenol, I finally typed up a list, made copies, and put it in the notebook. After I compiled the list I felt like I needed to enter rehab - most were listed as needed for allergies and asthma - but wow, what a list. I was asked at least seven times for a list of medications. I was able to just attach the list to the forms, and promptly handed the forms back, maybe with a little big of organizer satisfacton . Helpful Hint to Docs: tell you patients to generate a list of meds and make copies.

Fashion: There can also be helpful fashion tips section that is useful when going in for the mutitude of scans. The only time you must change into a hospital muumuu is when you have an x-ray. Fashion tip: wear shoes that look okay without socks - socks and hospital muumuus are a definite fashion-don't. You can wear your clothes for all the scans, but, you cannot have a zipper in your pants, no wires in the bra, no belt buckles or wallet chains. By the third scan I figured out that I need to wear fat pants - the Thanksgiving feast, expandable Juicy-type pants and sports bra or cami. Hint to Docs: Why don't you write this in big bold letters on the requisitions: Fashion Alert - no metal!

I can go on and on about the information that should be organized in a mega-useful handbook, but it doesn't get much better than fat pants.

Whacky thought for the day...
Why is it when people say the something is nothing, I become skeptical? Something can't be nothing, because it is some thing. Only the lack of something can be nothing.


  1. Keval,
    Thank you for giving me the privilege of following your journey. I love the idea of the medication list...And your candor and honesty. I am keeping you and your family in my prayers.

  2. I'll make you a binder if you want, with dividers and pockets, Nancy