Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How Much Do You Involve Your Partner in Health Care Decisions?

When I was at my worst, floundering around with a chronic pain condition with no answers and no direction, Richard came with me to every appointment - from medical specialists to homeopathist. On the practical side, I couldn't drive or remember too clearly, so he was chauffeur and memory. I asked practitioners questions out of a desperate hope for the one pill that would make it all go away. He asked questions that came from a rational, analytic mind. He was as current with my health care status and information as I was. I could not have made it without this kind of support (along with other kinds).

I am curious. To what extent do you, the ill partner, involve your well partner in your health care experiences? Does he/she go with you to appointments? Do research? Stand on the sidelines? Wait for you to bring up health issues? Absent him/herself? How do you balance your health care and your relationship?

And for the well partner - how much do you get involved in your ill partner's medical experiences and day-to-day care needs? How much information do you want to know? Do you sometimes feel left out or frustrated with your partner's style of getting (or not getting) care?

No judgments here. There is no generic right way of connecting or disconnecting around health care activities. What worked for me and Richard might seem too enmeshed and could drive another couple crazy.

What works for you?


Diana Lee said...

I think it's hard for my husband to keep up to date on my health conditions. He tries, but he just doesn't always have the information I have.

It's nice when he's able to go to appointments with me because I think he feels more engaged, but it's the rare occasion when he can come.

I make most of the decisions about my health care by myself, and he is very supportive.

Barbara K. said...

Hi Diana Lee. I'm glad your partner is supportive and engaged as much as he can be.

FridaWrites said...

I'm the one who's disabled and sometimes sick. I used to take him to every appointment with me that I could--even prenatally through two pregnancies and postpartum. In the past couple of years, I don't because that's too many appointments and I need too much of his help at other times--we couldn't risk his job for that many appointments since I also needed help getting to and from work (sometimes mid-day, was part-time) and with tasks during the day. He worked from home, but even with that flexibility there's a limit.

I think some doctors may assume he doesn't care or that my family's uninvolved, but the reality is that he needs to use that time in other ways. He would go with me if I asked and has done so--he takes me to the surgeries and procedures I've had and also helps me out after them. I need a lot of help with positioning/moving and basic pain relief (ice packs, hot packs), with bathing every day and a half when things are bad, etc. I would need help in rehab if it weren't for him--I don't have the physical strength sometimes to go to the bathroom alone or even sit up.

Barbara K. said...

Hi Frida, -- it can be very difficult to find a balance between having your partner help when needed while also having him attend to the practical and financial needs of a family. It's an ongoing work. Sounds like your partner is there for you.

Ashley said...

As the well spouse, I handle almost everything as far as our healthcare. I make all the appointments and go with my husband. I'm the one that calls to refill his scripts and deals with the insurance company. My husband is still working, so at the end of the day, the last thing he wants to do is talk to the pharmacy or the insurance company.

Barbara Kivowitz said...

Ashley - your husband is lucky to have your support. Like him, I too handed over insurance hassles to my partner.