Know Your Team

With so many decisions needing to be made when tragedy strikes, it's important to know the people involved in making them so each option can be weighed.

Tom Seaver, Tommie Agee, Cleon Jones, Jerry Koosman ... if those names mean anything to you, you’re older than you think.

They are names from the 1969 World Champion New York Mets.

Forty two years later and I can still remember them. In fact I can name just about every member of the 1969 team. In other words, I know my team. But do you? Do you know your team? And I do not mean baseball.

When you have an illness you are treated by a team, which may include doctors, therapists, technicians, specialists, nurses, administration personnel, insurance customer support agents, the list goes on.

If – God forbid – it is serious, you may have an army of doctors, nurses, aides, administrators, social workers, therapists, etc.  all involved in your care.

After 22 operations and 496 straight days within a hospital and rehabilitation environment, I still have not met — nor may ever meet all of my care providers.

For a long period, I had multiple teams working on me concurrently. There are so many different people to deal/contend/communicate with and they in turn have to deal/contend/communicate with so many patients, it is a never ending cycle of phone calls, conferences, visits, evaluations, billing issues, insurance issues…. Be smart, know your team.

Your team comprises the people who care for you in cases of illnesses and the family and friends that would be responsible for your well -being if you cannot care for yourself.

Your starting line-up  — to put this in baseball terms — are the people closest to you and in case of a real emergency may make life-and-death decisions.

You may not be capable of making a decision.

When I was in a coma, a decision was made that saved my life and also altered my life forever. That was when a decision was made to amputate my legs in order to save my life.

The legs were amputated below the knee and this decision was made soon after the consultation occurred. The longer the wait, the more of a chance the legs would need to be amputated above the knee.

There is a huge difference of above and below the knee amputations. The energy exerted is far greater for above-the-knee than below-the-knee-amputations, let alone the mobility factor as it is much easier to get around with you own knees intact. There are new prosthetics now available that have motorized knees, but safe to say, keeping the original parts is always a good thing.

The doctor who amputated my legs has had a huge impact on my life. Yet I have never met him.
In fact, I never met all of the many people who cared for me  — but my team did.

Having a limb amputated is a really big deal. Using a storm analogy, the seas are rough, the waters choppy, the skies overhead are certainly cloudy. How do you navigate out of this not-so-perfect storm?

One way is to determine exactly where you are and where you need to be going. This is not always easy or cut and dry. You may not even be in the conversations. Know your team.

Many insurance and healthcare providers have a ‘navigator’ assigned to specific cases. The intent is to help you get through all of the paperwork and processes associated with your illness.

Here a family member or members may want to weigh in on the business side so everyone is clear on coverage and provided paid care methods.

The idea here is to know who on your team will be active for your overall care and to target the proper personnel to discuss the available options. The tougher the illness, the more people will be involved. The key is to streamline this information to where it is understandable and identifiable.

The point of contact on the care side is counseling individuals and transmitting information so an educated decision can be made regarding the available and provided care. You are not their only patient so the better you are prepared to ask the right questions at the right time may help expedite the information equation process.

Hospitals have navigators and secondary facilities have social workers providing specific information. Do yourself a favor and do not get caught up in the moment and receive information on a need-know-basis. Rather, and if possible, look down the road and understand the pros and cons for each option.

The debate will be over one simple thought  — what is the best care? Once determined, then everything else will follow, as we all want to get back on the field again.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rich McAllister March 15, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Thanks Frank...as someone who was there I am trying to pass along some items we all learned and shed some light on the many aspects of disabilty ... and hopefully you like the Met link in the begiinning of the story..
Sandy March 15, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I know nothing about the Mets ... past or current. However, your baseball analogy was not lost on me. It's vitally important to know your team when maneuvering within our monstrous healthcare system. It's also good advice for life.
Rich McAllister March 15, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Hi Sandy, you're probably better off knowing nothing about the Mets these days... It is so important to know the many people who you are dealing with in the many and complicated maze of medical/healthcare in order to streamline the information properly. Thanks for your comments.
Ulrike Saegebarth March 15, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that. I had two surgeries on my back but don't know who treated me. My case is more simple than yours because there is no help for me. Maybe I need more care later if the scar tissue overgrows the nerve again but I hope that this won't happen.
Rich McAllister March 16, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Thanks Ulricke... You may want to ck with your hospital and see who did operate on you and follow up with them... Thanks for your comments.. ...


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