I have worked in healthcare since 1977, when I received my doctorate in psychology. I was pretty young at the time, only 26 years old. I went straight through college and graduate school, largely because of the recession in 1973, one of the worst economic downturns since the depression. Since jobs were very scarce, I figured that finishing my schooling, which I wanted to do anyway, made good sense. In the last 37 years, I have seen many changes in how health care is delivered. I have also experienced many changes in how mental health professionals view mental health problems. For example,... Read More
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Family Talk Blog
I read a column in the New York Times last Sunday, called the “Workologist”. Readers write in questions about work problems. This week, a reader described a co-worker as a “narcissistic, selfish, and terrible manager”. He tried confrontation, but when that didn’t work, he attempted to make friends with her. She didn’t respond well. Frustrated, he finally went to her boss—no help there either. He is ready to look for another job, but in this job market, it won’t be easy. He wants to know what to do.... Read More
I feel very fortunate.
During the last three weeks, my brother and I, my step sisters, and my nephews and nieces rallied together to take care of my mother, as she struggled for life. Last week, I came home after two weeks in Florida, first by her bedside in the ICU, then in the hospital, and finally in a rehabilitation facility.
During the first ten days, my brother and I worked as a team to insure that she received the care that she wanted and was able to refuse the care she didn’t want. We spent many hours together, talking, crying, laughing and telling stories. We got to... Read More
In the last two weeks, while I’ve been taking care of my mom, first in the hospital, and now at a rehabilitation center, I’ve learned several important points about healthcare. Below are the most important:Don’t get sick. If you do get sick, and have to go to a hospital, have family or friends spend as much time with you as they possibly can. The family needs to check and double check everything that the hospital staff does. Family has to actively advocate for the patient, in a kind, respectful, patient, and persistent manner.
I am always impressed with how kind, caring, and... Read More
Many years ago, at my cousin’s wedding, my Uncle Mel shared some angry words with his younger sister, Marilyn—“Your husband never comes to any of my family events!” he said sharply. “I’ve been to every one of your kid’s celebrations,” he snapped. From that moment, Marilyn never spoke to her brother again. Their silence lasted more than 15 years. They both went to their graves without a word between them. I was the only family member who actually witnessed their argument.
These two grew up in the depression, lost their mother when they were teenagers and lived through World War II.... Read More
Have you ever had lower back pain?
I bet the answer is yes!
According to the National Institute of Health nearly everyone will experience lower back pain at some point in their life! Americans spend 50 billion dollars on low back pain (Wow! That’s a big number) and it’s the leading cause of missed work. No doubt about it, low back pain is a bummer!
In the past, I experienced my back “going out”-- bending down in the shower to pick up the soap, everything seized up! Or I might pick up something heavy without using my legs, and boom, my back would seize up. That might... Read More
Most of us have seen images of the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in the movies, tubes hanging down from bags of fluids, and the ventilator tube extending from the patient’s mouth. We’ve heard the rhythmic sound of the ventilator and seen the visual images of graphs and numbers on a screen, all representing the patient’s life force—their vital signs.
It’s entirely another matter when it’s your own mother.
She looks lifeless, with the whooshing sound of the ventilator breathing air into her fluid filled lungs. She is receiving an IV drip of a powerful sedative, which prevents her... Read More
I am in the air again, flying to see my mother.
But this time, it’s because she is in the ICU.
My brother called me Sunday night and told me that she was admitted to the hospital because of breathing problems. She had another heart attack, developed pneumonia, and is now on a ventilator. My brother is already there, waiting for me.
One week earlier, our entire extended family was in Florida spending a week at a beach house. My mother sat on the beach, watching her three great grandchildren play in the sand; her adult grandchildren care for them, and her children... Read More
On New Year's Eve this year, a group of retired Alvin Ailey American Theatre dancers performed Ailey’s signature piece—“Revelations.” For those of you that haven’t seen it, watch it on YouTube. It’s a dance piece that soars.
But for this performance, the artistic director asked their retired dancers, ranging in age from 43 to 75 years old, to perform. One of the dancers (With Willing Spirit, a Reprise for Ailey Dancers, New York Times, 12/24/2013), Ms. Fisher-Harrell... Read More