Sunday, September 6, 2015

Preconference Tidbit #10 - Lasting Connections – Jim V

by Jim V

Tonight's Tidbit is another story about the lasting connections formed during collaborative care.

Jim V is a quality expert with a deep interest in organizations. He was a collaborative care patient at Concord Hospital, where he worked as a hospital administrator.

His story is about the impact of collaborative care on his recovery and his wife's comfort; and about a time, later, when he was able to provide the same kind of care for someone else. It is now fourteen years since his surgery. His experiences are as alive for him today as they were then. What are the connections he is describing? How are these connections created? Tomorrow we will talk more about that.

Jim V: 

            "The collaborative care team was more interested in making me self-reliant than getting me discharged. They wanted me involved in my care in a way that I understood what was going on, so that when I went home I knew about things, knew what to look for. That is the greatest gift that the team gave me. They provided me with a comfort level that let me say, “I can do this. I can still live a very productive life. Yep, I need to pay attention to things, but this is not the end of the world.”

            The important thing is, it was a gift. What the team gave to me was a gift. I’ve never in the 14 years since been able to find another way to describe it. Pat was so nervous about losing me. The team gave her a level of comfort. She was included and her questions were answered. Did it take away her emotion completely? No. that is still there, even today. But it was extremely comforting that the team was able to take her seriously, take her questions seriously, and understand what she was going through.

            How does that make a long term connection?  People listened to us. They gave Pat comfort and information, and they wanted me to get well on my own terms.

            I won’t have my valve replaced again. I went through this once, the company has promised me a 45 year warranty, and the next time God wants me it is time to go. If it ever comes to that, I think they will try to talk me out of it, but is how I feel now. So, I decided to take the best care of myself possible. I decided to run. The way I started running was, I did a program called “Couch to 5K.” You do something every day for 35 minutes, three times a week, for 9 weeks. You start by walking three minutes, and running one. The other rule is, if you can’t finish a day, you keep repeating that day until you can. Then you can move on.

            When I started, my heart rate would go up and stay up. It took forever to recover. Now, I can be running in the middle of the race and sometimes my heart rate comes up to 170, even though I try to keep it about 150. When I finish running, and my heart rate comes down to my recovery rate of 120, it takes about 100 feet! I didn’t really understand how valuable this is, exercise. It is just amazing how quickly this heart comes back now. I’m back to resting within 3-4 minutes. It is amazing. That is a healthy heart!

            I’m running 5 Ks now. I think of you every time I do my 5 Ks. The object is not to win. It is to finish.

            There is a story that I love to tell. Addie had a patient who was very optimistic about surgery, very upbeat. His surgery went very well, and the whole care team was ecstatic, but when he came out of surgery he was depressed. He wouldn’t talk to anyone. Addie looked at the team and said, “Can I go up and get Jim? He will listen to Jim.” She came up to my office and told me the story. I went down to the ICU and introduced myself. I looked around and said, “Whoa, this was my room!” Steve, who was my nurse, walked in, and I said, ‘You have my nurse! You are in great hands here!” But it didn’t do any good. He kept pointing his head over to the right. I thought, “What is he doing?” After the third time he did it I followed his gaze and saw one unit of blood going into him. I asked, “The unit of blood?” He said, “They are lying to me. I’m having a blood transfusion and that means I am dying.” I said, “I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I had twelve. Look at me. I passed out when they tried to stand me up. You have one unit. You are doing fantastic.” He got this smile on his face that I will never, ever forget. When somebody has been through it, you can listen to that person differently. He listened to me. It turned everything around. That is my favorite story. I gave back. I made a difference for all that was given to me.”

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