Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How to Handle a Medical Crisis

How to Handle a Medical Crisis

Time, Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2007 By Alice Park

One medical crisis is certainly enough to turn your world upside down. But imagine living through four of them. That's what Jessie Gruman did, with admirable resilience and laughter.

The 53-year-old social psychologist has turned her history into a practical and accessible guidebook, AfterShock, for people who are going through the same things she did — confusion, fear, and emotional seesaws — every time a doctor gave her devastating news about her health. Founder and director of the Center for the Advancement of Health, a non-partisan institute that helps patients get reliable information about their medical care, Gruman talks to TIME about her experiences and provides advice about how to weather medical storms...

Gruman's Common Sense Help for Getting Through the First 48 Hours

1. This is a crisis. Treat it as one.
Don't try to go on as though nothing is happening to you. Don't go to work for at least 48 hours, and cancel you social engagements until you get your feet back under you.

2. Protect Yourself
Talk if you want to talk, cry if you feel like it. There is no particular benefit or harm in either. Stop searching for information online if it is confusing or frightening. You will have time to learn more later.

3. Don't rush to resolve your treatment plan
The only task you must accomplish during the first 48 hours is to make sure you have set up the next doctor's appointment.

4. Eat
Even if you aren't hungry: you don't need a hunger headache. Drink, too. Water, for sure. Coffee or tea? Whatever you are used to. A little Scotch? Sure (but not the whole bottle).

5. Rest
Emotional stress is exhausting. If you can nap, do it. If you are agitated, get up and walk around the block. If nothing else, it'll remind you that the world is carrying on in spite of your news.

6. Breathe

7. Move around

8. Remember: You will not always feel like this.

From AfterShock, by Jessie Gruman, PhD, Walker & Co., 2007.

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Books on Doctors as Patients and a few on the Doctor-Patient Relationship