Thursday, May 27, 2010

Conversation About the Diagnosis

The Dreaded Diagnosis

I sat with the mother and her son when the doctor was about to give his diagnosis following a series of tests. The young adult child’s physical appearance and need for help with small tasks like caring for himself, cutting his food and even walking were becoming more and more apparent. A series of tests and doctor visits became a tradition for this mom and her oldest son.

She requested I attend the follow up visit with the neurologist to be an extra set of ears. I planned to take notes and help think of questions during the conversation and following it. None of us had any warning to what the doctor might say.

He listed many possibilities including Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis. I was quit taken back now picturing a person in a wheelchair or with a walker. I looked at the mothers face for an expression – there was none.

The doctor allowed for time to ask questions, take notes and while the mom had her conversation, I wrote down my questions. I didn’t want to interrupt her train of thought. I was, after all their guest. As the mom searched for words, I wondered to myself how someone is supposed to come prepared with questions after this diagnosis. One can’t prepare themselves.

As the mom searched for time and was thinking of more questions, I asked “may I ask some of my questions now?” She agreed to allow me to ask my list of questions and that gave her time to clear her mind and capture more time with the doctor. When I was done asking, she once again had her list of questions. The first sign that she was ready to resume her conversation, I stopped talking.

She needed to plan for additional tests and follow up appointments. After that there would be additional opportunities to meet with the doctor and do some more planning..

Being alone in the doctors office, especially when you might hear bad news, is never a good idea. But, knowing who the helper might be is just as important.

No comments: