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Guidelines for Medical Providers

I got a letter today.

I know, totally weird.

It was out of the blue. I wasn't expecting it. Is anyone expecting a letter in 2019? If so I can't tell if that is saddest thing I've ever head or the most beautiful. Definitely no where in between.

The letter was from a woman I briefly met at a random herb shop in Missoula. My buddy Dylan and I had gone there to look for Huckleberry Chocolate Bars to take back to my family. After a minute he waved hello to a someone in the coffee shop in the back of the store.We sat down and started chatting and lo and behold, she had what I had. We talked about her approach to the situation and she said her main thing is that she didn't talk about it. Outside of her doctor’s office and on the rare occasions like the one we were having then, she never let the word pass her lips. It wasn’t avoidance on her part, it’s that she didn’t want to identify with the disease any more than she had to. I really appreciated that perspective. Sometimes I wonder if writing about cancer as often as I have prevents my body from moving past it.

I don’t think that’s true, but the idea has crossed my mind.

So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my mail box and saw that the letter I received was from her. The whole experience was such a joy. I loved read the messy handwriting. I loved feeling the weight of the card in my hand. Now I’m not a luddite. I'm not suggesting our society go back to writing letters by hand. But it was one of the more pleasurable experiences I’ve had all week, and I think if you want to do something nice for someone you haven't spoken to in a while, writing them a letter might not be the worst idea.

In the note was a photocopy of something someone had given her. It was a set of guidelines from a woman who had Parkinson’s Disease. The guidelines were for her medical team on how she wanted to handle her care. The woman writing to me had crossed out Parkinson’s and written the word cancer. She had sent these guide line to me.

I read the list several times and found them incredibly moving. So moving, in fact, that I wanted to share them here with you all today. If you’re going through something, or know someone going through something, which is basically every person on the earth, maybe you find these helpful.

I'm going to take a walk in the woods now. Happy Friday. Talk to you all Monday.

These beliefs shape my health care:

  1. I am the one primarily responsible for my own health care.

  2. My doctors and I are partners in my care, each with our own skill and expertise.

  3. My mind has a profound influence on my body.

  4. Western medicine is mostly disease managment, which is vital, but limited.

Here is how I approach my diagnosis of (Insert disease here)

  1. I stay very positive

  2. I avoid exposure to details about what could happen to me later.

  3. I want the images in my head to be images of healing, hope, strength, love.

  4. I am grateful for medication, and am very wary of ever increasing doses.

  5. I use these healing tools: walking, biking, yoga, diet, good attitude, faith, community.

  6. I keep very engaged in something beyond myself.

  7. I use Ayurveda, wholistic medical model from India) as my primary medical resource.

Things that are helpful to me

  1. Recognize me as a partner with you in my health care.

  2. Ask my opinion, experience, intuitive sense about treatments you recommend

  3. Listen to me. Listen.

  4. By your words and manner offer me: a positive attitude, hope, encouragement, confidence in me.

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