ARTICLES / General / A Most
Share This Article
A Most Valuable Commodity
Why is it so hard to convince
caregivers to take the time to care for themselves?
When a caregiver has to go to the doctor for herself,
she has to find others to care for her loved one while
she is away. Arrangements must be made, such as someone
to dispense medicines, provide meals and take care of
her loved one's activities of daily living. If she has
no car, she must also make other transportation
arrangements. And, of course, she must show up for her
appointment on time.
Now comes the fun part: hurry up and wait.
A few weeks ago, I hurt my knee. Once I realized that
the pain was not going to go away, but, actually
intensifying, I knew I had to see a doctor. I made a
2p.m. appointment, arrived a half hour early in order to
fill out the requisite paperwork and waited. And waited,
and waited. I sat in the doctor's waiting room until
4p.m.. Finally, they called my name and the nurse
ushered me past all of the examining rooms and into
another waiting room. I sat for another hour. An x-ray
was taken of my knee before I even saw the doctor. One
and a half hours later I was finally escorted into an
examining room, hoping to see the doctor I had made the
appointment with. Wrong again. A doctor stuck his head
in the room, saying, "Whoops, wrong room, " only to
re-enter a half hour later, explaining that he would see
me instead of the doctor I was expecting.
The doctor I was expecting was too busy to see me. At
this point I was mad, frustrated, hours overdue and in
pain. At this point, I wouldn't care if Dr. Dolittle
came to examine me. The doctor looked at the X-ray and
found nothing wrong, but decided that I needed a
cortisone shot anyway. He told me that if it still hurt
next week, I should come back for an MRI.
It was now nearly 6:45p.m. The doctor saw me for fifteen
minutes. I waited 4 1/2 hours. Why is a
caregiver/patient's time not as valuable as the
professional's time? Why are they not on a reliable time
schedule? Emergencies not withstanding, this looked like
a simple case of overbooking. This time their fear that
some of their patients wouldn't show up backfired. All
of their patients paid with a most valuable commodity:
time. I and the other caregivers I met in the waiting
room would unfortunately hesitate a little more before
taking time off to care for ourselves. And that would be
the real shame.
But I really don't think this situation exists out of a
lack of caring on the part of the doctors and their
offices. I believe it exists out of a lack of knowledge,
understanding and most of all, awareness. That is why I
will bring the notice of NFCA's National Family
Caregiver Week (page 9) to my doctor's office, and to
the care facility where my father lives. I will tell
everyone I know about it, and request that they call
NFCA and find out how they can participate. Most of all,
I will ask them all to be aware of the millions of
family caregivers and take our needs into consideration.
I invite you to do the same.