My primary mission is to serve through supporting the dying, their families, and caregivers in whatever way will serve them best. I hope to empower dying people and their families to become effective advocates for themselves, but this is a secondary goal.
Some Background ...
Without knowing what a “Healthcare Advocate” is, I naturally evolved into being one early in this life.
It started with myself, in my late teens, when I realized that the doctor wasn’t able to diagnose what was going on with me and he was just guessing (at my expense). I was having horrible digestive problems, he was an Internist, but didn’t think to ask if my diet had changed recently.
After x-rays, many other invasive tests and no definitive diagnosis, this doctor decided I had colitis and put me on a medication that did nothing for me. After a few months, I took myself off of the meds, changed my diet again, and started to feel better. I then realized that I really needed to be the one in charge of my body and this has served me well throughout my life.
Being an advocate for someone else’s body/health for me was a natural outgrowth of becoming comfortable with this role for myself. I learned long ago that doctors really are just “practicing” medicine and that they don’t always see the big picture. Not to mention, they aren't living in your body, so cannot feel and really understand what's going on much of the time.
Fast forward to the mid-90's when my grandmother was going through the last 9 months of her life. Typical of that generation, she didn’t know how to deal with doctors, let alone challenge a healthcare professional. I stepped in on her behalf and she willingly made me her legal healthcare power of attorney and executor of her living will. She recognized that I could communicate effectively with doctors, nurses, etc. — and I was comfortable with negotiating the healthcare system. At the time, this behavior came to me intuitively and out of my love for her. I wanted the best possible outcomes for her when it was apparent that she was not going to be “cured,” but needed palliative care.
After a particularly bad fall, where she landed in the hospital (again), miserable and in pain, also unable to swallow food, a kind nurse told me about hospice. I took her home after signing up with that Hospice and we spent her remaining time in her own home. She died comfortably there, in her own bed, three of her grandchildren (me included) with her.
In a number of other situations, I have come to the aid of friends and family as their advocate — most recently for my father. It was a completely different situation of course, but once again, he surrendered to whatever the doctors recommended. Fortunately, this time (20 years later), with a wonderful gerontologist, his care was appropriate. And yet, he needed me to act as an interpreter for what happened during his appointments, therapies, and pretty much all communications with the doctors, nurses, etc.
In addition to supporting my grandmother and father through the end of their lives, I have worked with hospices as a volunteer for many years, served on a hospice ethics committtee, and also treated terminal cancer patients with Reiki and Sound Therapy for a number of years.
As an End of Life Mentor, I feel comfortable offering my services in all of the above capacities, but primarily as a healthcare advocate. Authority figures do not intimidate me and after years of previously working in corporate America, and as an entrepreneur for the last 25+, I feel well-grounded in negotiating with various personalities and situations. That said, I'm happy to play and sing live music, run errands, give Reiki, do laundry, read to someone, and do whatever is needed to nurture and support the particular situation.
May the blessings be!