Healthcare Doesn’t Need to Be a Cold and Unfeeling Experience

Written by: April Lunar

Modern medicine has made some incredible advances. For the first time in human history many previously unbeatable conditions can be actively fought. Even when doctors can’t cure those conditions they’re often able to offer up years or decades of additional life. However, there’s also a downside to this level of healthcare. 

Few people really enjoy spending time in the hospital. This is true when people only need to go once every few years or so. It’s often even more the case for someone who needs to spend extensive time within one. This is one of the reasons why people are often terrified of conditions like cancer. It’s not just the condition itself that they’re scared of. The treatment options often cause a great deal of agitation as well. 

However, one shouldn’t assume that long term treatment will automatically go hand in hand with long term hospitalization. This is especially true for married couples. In fact, we can see this best by considering a theoretical case of a husband and wife facing her cancer diagnosis. In our example the doctors say she has a strong chance for remission. But at the same time the treatment plan can potentially last for one or more years. 

This is the worst case scenario for many people. It’s hard to cope with the idea of countless nights spent away from loved ones. To trade the warm environment one has carefully created for cold hospital walls. But this is also where we see a common misconception about long term care. 

It’s true that something on the level of cancer will usually require an extensive level of medical supervision. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that one needs to have it done within a medical setting. In fact, in our example the husband will be able to take on the roll of primary caregiver for his wife. 

At first this might seem like an impossible proposition for someone without medical training. It’s important to keep in mind that someone in the caregiver role doesn’t need to be an expert in medicine. He simply needs to be an expert in the very specific needs of an individual patient. And in fact, this is where a dedicated couple can often achieve some quite remarkable results. The main reason is that couples are already experts in one area of study. They’re usually the ultimate authority in knowing what their partner needs at any given time. 

In fact, we’re often able to anticipate our partner’s needs before they can. This connection doesn’t suddenly disappear once a serious illness appears. It’s quite the opposite in fact. The mutual love and respect which makes a marriage work can also help patients fight with everything they have to regain their health. 

The first thing our example couple would do is consult with medical professionals about the decision to incorporate home care into the treatment. A specialist, in this case an oncologist, should be the primary focus of this discussion. He’ll be able to help the couple figure out points of contact and what resources to use. Both the husband and wife would want to pay particular attention to any discussion of medication. 

Combinations of standard meds, chemo and cancer tend to have an impact on one’s memory. This is often true for conditions other than cancer as well. But cancer can be an especially tricky combination of all of these elements into a singular and often difficult whole. This is where the husband can ease into his first utilitarian role. He should familiarize himself with his wife’s medications. And assuming that scheduling permits, he can ensure that she takes them on a regular basis. 

He should also take over responsibility for picking up refills. Some areas do have restrictions on who can pick up medications at a pharmacy. But more often than not a spouse will be able to pick up any medication for the other person. This even includes restricted medications. 

It’s especially important to understand the medication routine to prepare for any mobility issues. For example, the wife might experience hemorrhaging in parts of the brain responsible for motor control due to proximal tumors. She might also experience muscle atrophy over the course of treatment. These and other issues could result in difficulties swallowing pills. If the husband is fully familiar with her medications than he’ll be able to smoothly transition her to oral liquid forms. This is a prime example of a situation where long term hospitalization can be prevented by attentive home care. 

The earlier discussion of muscle atrophy and mobility issues raises another important aspect of home care. The husband in this example would be able to help his wife get around. It’s quite common for people to find themselves in an in-between state with their mobility. They might have lost full mobility for various reasons related to the cancer. But they have the potential to regain it with continued use of their problem areas. In this case the husband might be able to help hold his wife’s weight as she begins to regain full mobility again. 

This also highlights a less obvious but extremely important part of home care. The psychological aspect of having someone you love as a caregiver can’t be overstated. It’s easy to find one’s will to fight diminishing when our loved ones are far away. Extreme illness is never easy to push one’s way through. But we find ourselves capable of some amazing things when a partner is cheering us on. Often times we won’t have the inner fire to fight for ourselves. But we’ll find it when that spark is lit by the fires of love from another. 

Likewise the healthy partner often loses hope when he’s forced to only dwell on memory and fear. When he’s alone in bed it’s easy to sink into worst case scenarios. But having his wife with him at home can serve as a reminder that they’re still a team. That they’re still fighting together for their future. 

This isn’t always able to result in a successful remission or cure. But this home care does provide something that no other type of healthcare could provide. It helps ensure that people aren’t simply alive during their treatment. When we’re at home and with someone we love we’re not just alive. We’re actually living that life. And doing so with someone who’s continually proving that they’re eager to put everything they have into helping. 

Medicine is what directly fights the condition. But many people find that incorporating home care and a spouse as primary caregiver is what fights the emotional turmoil that often comes with illness. Not only for the person who has the condition. But for the one who worries about her the most.


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