The following is adapted from the transcript of the second in my series of Dying Talks ™ videos—geared toward individuals who are facing end of life.
In today’s episode of Dying Talks, we’re going to talk about your understanding of your diagnosis.
When I was working in the field in hospice and visited a newly admitted patient, one of my first questions was, “Tell me what your doctor told you.”
I did this because I wanted to make sure the patient and I were both on the same page.
Too often, I found that the information we’d received on the patient’s records was either not what the patient was told, or it wasn’t what the patient heard.
The latter is common because there’s so much stress involved when someone is sitting in the doctor’s office and receives such difficult news.
Bad news is hard to hear.
Many times, after bad news is received, a person’s hearing turns off somewhat.
As a result, it’s not unusual for an individual who is starting the end-of-life journey, or who has been admitted to a hospice program, to be confused about exactly what’s going on.
So, I want to start with that.
If you have any questions about why you’ve been referred to a hospice or palliative care program—of if you just have questions that came up after you left the doctor’s office, then be sure to ask.
Because this season of your life is not the time to lack clarity.
You should have all the answers you need, and I encourage you to contact your provider and ask questions if you or your loved ones need something explained further.
Own your power.
Many people are too intimidated by the healthcare system to find the answers they need.
Please don’t be.
Your provider cares about you, but may not realize that you don’t understand all the information you’ve been given.
This is your journey.
So I encourage you to own your power within this season to clarify things if there’s something you don’t understand.
Clarify the plan.
Ask what the plan is going to be if you’ve been referred to a hospice or palliative care program.
Perhaps you haven’t had the chance to ask your provider about your prognosis or life expectancy.
A simple question to ask in that context is “What do you think my life is going to look like in the next six months or so?”
Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions.
Of course, the answers may be difficult, so be sure to have the support you need when you do.
Write down your questions before you go to your visit, and try to take someone with you who can take notes and be a second pair of ears.
Don’t let anybody rush you.
Make sure when you leave the office that your questions have been answered to your satisfaction.
This is a sacred season for you.
And it’s a difficult one.
That’s why you need all the support and clarity you can get.
Please make sure you ask for it.
This is general information for educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice. You should always talk to your own healthcare provider about your individual needs.