What happens now? I said these words to the doctor in the hall of the hospital, on the way to my husband’s room, before his first surgery. An accident at work had led us to this spot, and I was pretty sure our whole world was about to change. I knew so little about amputation, let alone what he would need in the coming days, weeks, months, or years. I had to learn on the fly. In order to be able to ensure he had the things he would need, I had to do some intensive and QUICK research.
With that done, I had to get the doctors, nurses, and insurance company to listen to what I had to say. One of the things I had to get over was the “doctor always knows what he’s doing” mentality. While the doctor, nurse, or prosthetist can tell you the basics, they don’t know how your family works. You know the things that are important to you. Stand up and say something. That’s the most important thing you can do as the advocate. Your husband has a hard time walking “normally” with his new leg and could use some more PT to help that get better? Tell the doctor. They have the best chance of making the insurance company listen and do what needs to be done. Your wife isn’t comfortable with the way her prosthesis fits? Don’t let the doctor or prosthetist skim over it. You are the first line of defense for those you care for. The hardest part can sometimes be simply being able to remain calm when it seems no one is willing to listen or help. I learned pretty quickly that while the squeaky wheel may get the grease, the yelling one often gets ignored. Show up informed, show up ready to be firm, and show up all the time. While it can be daunting, it can be done. Persistence and patience are your friend in this journey.
About Christy Randall:
Labor Day 2013, my husband had an accident at work that crushed and de-gloved his left foot. Since then, I have been caregiver, cheerleader, researcher, and advocate for him.