Year 1, Week 16: Lesson in Poor Communications


It has been a hospital week, with the usual daily visits to my mother-in-law. Her recovery continues, but given the nature of her surgery, it takes time.

While her medical care is very good, patient communications is another matter:

  • Tuesday, her oncologist recommended she go directly home after hospital, and not go to a convalescence centre.
  • Wednesday, her surgeon and pulmonologist recommended go to a centre for a few weeks to improve her strength. Both times, they talked about discharge from hospital being the beginning of next week.
  • Yet Thursday, the ward doctor said she was ready to be discharged, and should plan on leaving that same day around 1 pm, as there was a spot in one of the convalescence centres.

While in the end, she had the presence of mind to say she was going nowhere given the previous advice of the doctors (the ones most involved with her care), it is a classic example of how doctors, by not discussing things together and giving contradictory messages, cause more anxiety and worry for patients. Annoying and irritating, and so simple to avoid.

On the good news side, and more important, her biopsy was negative meaning no further treatment required. A great relief to all.

Barbier-MuellerWhile we have had some time for walks etc, the weather has not been conducive (we were lucky for so long). We visited one of the smaller, specialized museums in Geneva, the Barbier-Mueller, which has an interesting collection of masks, ranging from the primitive to the modern (i.e., Darth Vadar!) from all around the globe. What is always interesting, and inspiring, about ‘primitive’ art, is how its imagery, simplicity, and essence has been adapted by so much modern art, coming around full circle as it were. And being Switzerland, a watchmaking connection, with some of the masks inspiring some unique Vacheron-Constantin timepieces (see video here, which gives a sense of their complexity).

I have been experimenting with some of the pay-by-click advertising options for my book to help increase sales. Goodreads so far has been disappointing, StumbleUpon paid discovery is showing some promise. I have also created a book ‘splash’ page to see if that helps (here). A learning experience to see what works best.

I continue to wade through The Denial of Death. Heavy going, as I have been reading the sections on Kierkegaard and Freud. Just one quote this week on group psychology, whether with respect to dictators, politicians or celebrities:

Dictators, revivalists, and sadists know that people like to be lashed with accusations of their own basic unworthiness because it reflects how they truly feel about themselves. The sadist doesn’t create a masochist; he finds him ready made. Thus people are offered one way of overcoming unworthiness: the chance to idealize the self, to lift it onto truly heroic levels. In this way man sets up the complementary dialogue with himself that is natural to his condition. ….

You can see that man wants the impossible: He wants to lose his isolation and keep it at the same time. He can’t stand the sense of separateness, and yet he can’t allow the complete suffocating of his vitality. He wants to expand by merging with the powerful beyond that transcends him….

As usual, time for my monthly stats. In November, the favourite posts (apart from the weekly updates and reflection pages) were:

  1. Leading Bone Marrow Transplant Expert Recommends Significant Change to Current Practice
  2. Psychopaths All Around Us – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast
  3. Cancer makes you realize the gift of time
  4. Let Me Tell You What’s Wrong With Me –
  5. A doctor’s letter to a patient with newly diagnosed cancer, Every single junk food meal damages your arteries, new study reveals and Why I don’t exercise – Sunrise Rounds | Sunrise Rounds

Health wise, I had my last dose of steroids (Prednisone) this morning, so will see how this goes. Don’t expect too much as have been slowly diminishing dose for the last 6 months. With that, my treatment is essentially over, apart from routine clinic visits and the regular attention to eating well and getting exercise. An early Christmas present.

One of the ‘side benefits’ of spending so much time at the hospital listening to whispered or quiet conversations, is the reminder of just how weak my hearing is (I had tried hearing aids before my relapse but gave them up when treatment started – a lessor priority at the time). Now, I can consider investing the time (and money) to avoid being isolated from many conversations, and frustrating family members and friends when I can’t hear properly.

So progress of a sort, and a new year’s project.


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