Response to Critique of Chapter 1 of “Your Hospital Guide”

I have to admit, I love receiving positive feedback.  It makes me feel like I’m on the right track, doing the right thing, being helpful, etc..  But the concerns and suggestions I receive help me to improve at a much quicker pace, propelling me to better communicate my thoughts.  A non-perfect critique prompts me to re-evaluate and re-think things in a more intense way than just re-reading my own words and listening to any kudos that have been tossed my way.

I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from a close family friend who is a retired Ob/Gyn physician.  This man is a remarkable doctor, beloved by his patients, and he managed single-handedly from halfway across the country to keep me sane through a significant scare during my pregnancy with my third child.  I have the utmost respect for him both personally and clinically.  When he started the phone conversation with “I’ve been reading your blog, and I want to talk to you about something you’ve written in your book’s first chapter,” I listened very closely.

His concern was specifically, “Don’t allow perfection to be the enemy of the good.”  He agreed that having someone with you in the hospital is extremely important, but is afraid that people will read my advice to have someone there at all times and if they are not able to do so, may give up on the idea of a Hospital Buddy completely, or not understand the most important anticipated times to have someone there.  Some of those most important times include when a person is medically unstable, when someone is having surgery or is post-surgery, when procedures are being done, and when medical teams are rounding.  And I am extrapolating from his concern to think that after taking to heart my advice, perhaps someone might avoid going to a hospital when needed because they do not have someone to go with them.

So as I do my final edits of my book, I will work in the above thoughts.  However, I am going to have to take my seatbelt analogy a bit further here as I work in those thoughts.   I don’t want to water down the force behind my original exhortation to try whenever possible to have round-the-clock Hospital Buddy presence.

You are most likely to be involved in a motor vehicle collision when you are in an intersection.  Certain intersections have statistically higher rates of collisions.  Collisions happen more frequently in icy conditions.  If you had a finite number of seatbelt hours, you would make sure to buckle up on an icy day while driving on a two-lane country road without shoulders.  You would buckle up when going through the intersections in which accidents were most frequently featured on the evening news, and try to click your belt through most intersections in general.

This may end up providing you with enough protection.  It is certainly better than never wearing your belt.  Problem is, depending on your speed, road conditions, and general traffic patterns, you may hit intersections at times that differ from what you had anticipated, and you’ve got your belt on too early or too late to cover the actual crossing.  It doesn’t account for the metal trash can that blows into the road in front of you, the car door that opens into traffic, the oil slick on a clear day, or the wasp that flies into the car.

So the best thing to do is to have your seatbelt on at all times, and you should do whatever you can to do so.  When you have only limited seatbelt time, you should try to have it coincide with your statistically most hazardous driving time.  And when you have to drive somewhere because you are fleeing from immediate danger, and the car does not have seatbelts, you should drive anyway, keep as alert as possible, and accept the potential risk.

If you are on a business trip in a city where you don’t know anyone, and you develop appendicitis or have a heart attack, don’t avoid or delay going to the hospital because your wife isn’t with you.  But your wife or brother-in-law or friend should drive into town as soon as possible to join you.  If you break a hip and have hip replacement surgery planned for tomorrow and your sister is only available to be with you for 24 hours, have her come in for the surgery and the time immediately following.  But if you can think of a friend who might be able to be with you until then, and someone to be with you after your sister leaves and at the time you’re discharged home, call them.  And when you have an elective, non-urgent surgery, test, or procedure coming up, plan it during a time when people will be able to be there with you.

Please keep your comments, feedback and questions coming!  I appreciate all of them immensely.  And Dr. Ronnie, how do you feel about my sending you my full manuscript this week for a second opinion?

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