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 An Interview with Olympia Dukakis (Page 2 of 2)

An Interview with Olympia Dukakis

GB: We call it becoming a Fearless Caregiver. 
OD: Fearless is a good word for it. It does feel that wayóthat you have to be fearless. And you canít worry about what other people are going to think about you. I had one doctor say to me, ďIím covering for another doctor, but he does not have any patients in the hospital right now.Ē I said, ďOh, really? My husband is in the hospital and he is his patient.Ē Weíre sitting in the hospital, and I am in the hallway trying to cope with the terrible pain my husband is in, and this woman is repeatedly telling me that his doctor doesnít have any patients in the hospital. After she said, ďHe does not have any patientsĒ several times, I started to yell at her.   And she said, ďWhy are you yelling at me? Do you realize you are yelling?Ē And I said to her, ďDo you want to know why I am yelling? Because I am frightened for my husband. Thatís why. Iím frightened. Itís nothing personal. It has nothing to do with you. Itís my feelings for my husband and the situation he is in. Thatís why Iím yelling. Iím trying to get someone to see him in the hospital.Ē  She thinks she is going to stop me by telling me to get back into control. Iím not shutting up because of that.
GB: And you shouldnít. You are a Fearless Caregiver.
OD: I am. I understand it. I learned thatís how you have to be. I donít like pushing my weight around people. I donít like being put in that position. But at a certain point, you feel like you have to. Who else will take care of my husband, my children and my mother? 

GB: Exactly. Thatís your role as an advocate. I donít think that many people know that you might be the only Academy Award winner who was also a physical therapist.
OD: Yes. I was. This was when people were first dealing with polio.
GB: As a health care professional, what advice would you like to share with family caregivers?
OD: The hardest thing to do is acknowledge the sickness and avoid denial. Focus on today rather than on mortality. Figure out what you can do today and do it. You do have a choice regarding where things are going. I think you have to do that and plan.


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