Protecting the Caregiver’s Health and Planning for Contingencies

As a caregiver, I find I always put dad’s needs before my own.  When I have to make medical appointments, I make the first available appointment with the optometrist or general physician for dad and the next available appointment for myself.  In my community, some of the doctors are only in the local office one day or even one half day per week.  My ophthalmologist is only in his office 2 days per month!  While dad saw him this year, I am still waiting for my appointment date.

Nevertheless, I have continued to take the first available date for dad and to wait for the next available date for myself.  Recently I went to visit the general physician to talk about dad’s health issues.  The following week I went in for myself.  That doesn’t seem like much of a wait, but when I first called I had to wait 4 weeks for the first available appointment, which I took for dad’s needs.  I took the next one — 5 weeks away — for myself.

I didn’t know how urgent my health concern was, so I decided it would wait.  I was having symptoms that did not cause pain.  I only was following up on them because of a medical column I had seen in the newspaper.  Sometimes it is hard for a lay person to decide if a certain symptom is important or not.

After reading the article, I decided I needed to follow up and discuss my symptoms with my doctor.  The first doctor I mentioned it to was the physician’s assistant I saw at my cardiologist’s office.  She said it was probably not a concern, but I should discuss it with my regular physician.  Almost 2 months later I finally spoke to my general physician about it.

My physician then immediately ordered a series of tests including a CAT scan and some others.  I had them done the same week.  The afternoon of the CAT scan, the nurse called to tell me there was something that needed to be followed up with the specialist right away.  I have not seen the specialist before, but have seen another doctor from that office.  I didn’t like the other doctor and thus scheduled with his partner.

This doctor was to be out of that office until ten days later.  I will see him next week instead.  I vary in my concern from “well, it is probably not serious as I lived with it so long already” to “OMG, they called me so quickly and wanted me to follow up so quickly it is probably the worst possible diagnosis we had considered.”

Now, I shouldn’t, but I looked it up on Google and found all the terrible problems that could be causing my symptoms.  There are others that are fairly benign as well, but naturally I focused on the bad ones as I know I have neglected myself for too long.  I have become quite concerned in the waiting part of this process since it will be over a week from when I was told to see the specialist until I can actually see him.

In the meantime, I continued to worry about all the possible problems that could develop.  Therefore, when I called my general physician to renew some prescriptions, I asked for a copy of the results of the CAT scan at the same time.  While I am not trained to read all that medical jargon, it didn’t look quite as scary after reading it as I had imagined.  Still it suggests that I follow up with more tests.

I made myself a list of questions for the doctor so I don’t forget to ask the important ones. I know when I am stressed I lose track of what I planned to do.  Doctors have such a limited amount of time to give us; we need to make the best use of it.  My daughter suggested she go with me to help me remember the questions and answers.  I know that will help a lot since I don’t really know this doctor.

I thought I had already put everything I need in place since I already have my will, durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney.  My son is named as the one who has the first duty to be my POA when he is available.

But now I realized I never gave him instructions on how to actually access my accounts online nor had I listed all of the accounts in one place.  This past week I made the list of financial accounts, insurance information, income information, etc in one file for myself and another for my father’s affairs.  I called my bank to see if they would send their own form for son to act as POA since they wouldn’t accept mom’s 4 years ago when I needed to act for her.

Again, I got the same run-around because their attorney apparently told them they can only accept a durable power of attorney in person with a current picture ID.  Now this credit union is in another state and there is no way either I or my son could walk in the door to conduct financial transactions.  I only have stayed with them all these decades because they have the best online services I have ever found.  My local credit union is more convenient, but their online banking application isn’t as versatile.

For the time being, I am not making any banking changes because I have so many accounts with dad as well as for myself.  Instead I gave my son all of the information needed so he can log onto my accounts to pay my bills and transfer funds between accounts.  I feel even if this is not necessary in the near future, there will come a time when it is necessary.

Hopefully my doctor’s visit will not turn up anything serious, but I feel that I have done everything I can to prepare for it.  Soon I hope to know for sure that I can relax and continue with my busy life.

I know I have neglected to write in the past several weeks, but these other circumstances have kept me busy.  Summer will be busy anyway, so don’t assume if I don’t write that there are problems.  We have some family visits coming up in the next few weeks as well, so I will be occupied with those too.

About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
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10 Responses to Protecting the Caregiver’s Health and Planning for Contingencies

  1. boomer98053 says:

    I am so sorry for the stress and fear that you’ve been experiencing. And of course, NOT knowing what’s going on in your body increases the stress, which increases the fear … a non-ending vicious cycle. I too have ill-advisedly searched the Internet to pinpoint what could be causing that nagging pain, and I’ve found that most Internet info just makes my stress worse. Ignorance is bliss comes to mind, within reason. You’ll have your appointment, you’ll find out what caused the doctor’s concern, and then you’ll take one step at a time and handle what needs to be handled – if anything.

    Always thinking of my blogger buddy, I’m supporting you all the way over here in Redmond, Washington.

  2. boomer98053 says:

    I also meant to say that you are not alone in the caregiver’s dilemma of ignoring ones needs and putting others first. Keep in mind the airline instructions, “Put on your oxygen mask first and THEN help those in need of assistance.” I know it’s difficult to do that, but I think it’s sage advice.

  3. jmgoyder says:

    I will be thinking of you.

  4. dementedgirl says:

    Oh gosh – I am sorry to hear about your health issues and am hoping for the best…

    I think as a carer you often feel like the whole stack of cards will crash down if you stumble or admit weakness, so we end up neglecting ourselves to keep the deck stacked.

    Am really glad you are posting on this issue to raise awareness of other carers who might be ignoring similar “niggles”…

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