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Making Doctor Terminology Relatable

As a true and divine daddy’s girl, I felt the need to accompany my mom and dad to as many doctor’s appointments as possible. The few times that I was unable to attend, mom and dad gave me little information about how daddy’s appointment went. Hmm, I thought to myself, maybe they’re just trying to shield me from bad news.

Accompanying my dad to the doctor

My dad had another appointment with his oncologist the following week. I felt like if I were to get any answers on my dad’s appointments, I needed to be there. With his oncologist appointment coming up, I was certain I was going to go with him. The next day while at work, I spoke with my boss to be sure I would be able to take that day off.

Anxiety and uncertainty

The day had finally come. My dad was not feeling like his normal perky self. My mom, dad, and I piled into the car to drive the 30 minutes it takes to get to the doctor’s office. The car ride was quiet and a bit tense. Anxiety and uncertainty had set in.

I did not want to say the wrong thing, so I remained silent. After 30 minutes which seemed more like a lifetime ride, we finally reached the doctor’s office.

“Mr. Baldwin, we will see you now”, the nurse says. She escorts the three of us into an examining room, takes my dad’s vitals, and told us the doctor would be in shortly.

Struggling to understand doctor jargon

The doctor comes in and asks daddy how he has been feeling. “On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst, how do you feel Mr. Baldwin?” the doctor asks. My dad said he was feeling about an 8. I could sense that, especially with the car ride on the way to the doctor’s appointment.

The doctor then opens my dad’s file to read off what felt like his stats from playing in a basketball game. I had no earthly idea what the doctor was saying nor talking about. In the words of Charlie Brown, whomp, whomp, whomp, whomp, whomp. This is the only thing I heard as the doctor was talking.

Then, it dawned on me, maybe my parents weren’t shielding me from telling me about dad’s previous appointments. Maybe they were unclear themselves.

Creating a journal

After the doctor’s appointment, the teacher in me kicks in. I decided to create a doctor’s journal for my family to assist us with understanding the workings of my dad’s appointments.

The doctor’s journal included the names of all my dad’s doctors, their role, the prescriptions he is taking and their function, notes from each doctor’s visit, and goals for the next visit. This journal would accompany us to every single appointment.

Toward the end of my dad’s battle, he was unable to speak. My mom, sister, and I were caregivers for my dad during his stay in the hospital. We managed a rotation schedule/shifts so dad always had someone present alongside him 24 hours and 7 days a week.

A go-to source

During each shift, as doctors and nurses came in to care for and check on dad, the journal was our go-to. Each of us took detailed notes in the journal. No matter who was there, at any given time, the 3 of us knew what was going on from one day to the next. As a caregiver, I would encourage each of you to create a journal as well.

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