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Lessons I have Learnt in the worst possible way!
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First I want to say everyone should speak to someone close to them that they can trust in case they have to go into hospital and ask if they would act as a Medical Advocate beforehand in the event of ever having to go into hospital because when you receive shattering news and you are trying to comfort a loved one, you feel emotional and it is difficult to make decisions. Oprah had a show Outrageous Medical Mistakes if only I had watched this show before my mother went into hospital, I believe that my mother would be alive today! - my mother's death was preventable.

I want to warn everyone to check on everything while your loved one is in hospital. After my mother died, I spoke to two doctors and asked them why no-one had checked on my mother when she vomited and their reply was - the staff cannot check on every patient that vomits! My mother had had two unnecessary invasive procedures which carry risks the day before and she was supposed to be monitored - this was critical and even I as a lay person would have known what to do at the time. To this day, no-one has apologised. I have learnt things that I never knew existed. I live with the thoughts of the day of the angiogram - if only I had stopped my mother from having the angiogram and called in a second opinion! There was no-one to assist us. We felt terribly alone. I feel that if someone knows something that would help another human being, they should have the courage to speak up because they might find themselves in a similar situation.

Dr Sanjay Gupta a top neurosurgeon and medical correspondent on CNN had to say on the Oprah show (people all over the world tune in to CNN to watch Dr Gupta and to hear his wonderful medical advice). He also mentioned that you must insist on a Medical Advocate to help you when you make the most important decision of your life while in hospital. In The United States, they have Medical Advocates in hospital but not in this country. That is why I stress that you find someone you can trust - just in case.

When faced with having a procedure done Dr Gupta stresses that you must ask your medical professional if there any other options available for example, in the case of an angiograms - less invasive or are there any other ways of addressing this problem? - (this is very painful for me for had I asked the right questions, my mother would be alive today - these are the thoughts that I play over and over in my head). Make sure that the questions you ask are
answered and if not, seek out a second opinion before committing to anything. Do not rush this and be very wary of medical professionals that rush you into anything.

Dr Gupta says that it requires vigilance on the part of the patients- “...we talk about buying a house - you check out the neighbourhood, you check out the schools, you check out the sewage but what about when you go to hospital?”. How can we not find it in us not to ask all those questions about a hospital when going into hospital is so much more important than buying a house - this is your life! Oprah replied “That is why I am doing this show - we just take it for granted that the hospital is there to help us and we do not ask the questions". Dr Gupta said again “but still ask the questions!". Dr Gupta explained that this happens because people are scared to ask these questions when in actual fact it is their right - it is critical to have a patient check-list.

Dr Gupta explained that when a patient goes to see a doctor they are nervous so consequently everything is a blur - his advice is that you must get everything down in writing or take a tape-recorder with you and always ask worst and best case scenarios! Dr Gupta says that when you play the tape back or read your notes - you will be surprised and you will find yourself saying “Gosh did the doctor really say that!”. Dr Gupta says that what is really important is to investigate your medical professionals' background. You are entitled to this information and everyone should have this before they decide who they want to go and see. When you have any X-Rays or pathology specimens done that you are concerned about obtain a fresh set of eyes to look at it.

Dr Gupta says that if possible always have a procedure done early in the day and early in the week. Dr Gupta says you should always strive for minimally invasive techniques if possible. When you go to the doctor, take someone with you - a Personal Advocate because when you are doubled-up in pain you won't be thinking about the right questions to ask - you will just want to end the pain. Mark your body before surgery with a permanent marker. Don't trust your life in anyone e|se's hands unless you have as much knowledge as possible!

Never take anything for granted and Savour Every Moment with Your Loved Ones.