“One of my coping methods when my daughter was sick was to research everything I could about brain tumors.  My husband felt better talking with friends.  We each coped differently, but that was okay.  We did what worked for us.” Elisabeth Russell – President, Patient Navigator

A serious illness affects all the parts of your life – family, friends, jobs, children, finances and caregiving.  We understand this and bring a holistic approach to each patient’s situation.  At My Patient Navigator™, we believe that a serious illness requires a whole patient vision and solution.

Doctors and other members of the health-care team should regularly assess a patient’s emotional and social needs, and then ensure that the patient is linked to appropriate resources. In reality, though, most do not have the time or staff resources to manage the psycho-social needs of a seriously ill person.

That is why our Roadmap series is designed to help you through the distinct issues associated with navigating an illness:  communication, research, financial, emotional and practical assistance, finding resources, managing your financial and medical records, using the Internet, developing a treatment plan, staying safe in the hospital and navigating the insurance maze.

Our hope is that these Roadmaps weave together for you a coherent approach to managing your situation so that you can focus on treatment, healing and recovery.

But even as these pieces fall into place, it’s easy to forget about taking care of you.

  • Friends, neighbors, colleagues and family will come to your side if you become ill.  Many will offer to help without really knowing what they can do.
  • In other cases, those around you will be so distraught that you find yourself having to comfort them.
  • People will want to speak to you on the phone to “see how you’re doing.”

All of these can be draining at the time when you most need to conserve energy.  Yet many of us have a difficult time asking for and accepting help.  Most Americans are just not wired that way.

Here are some online tools that can help.

Lotsa Helping Hands is a private, web-based volunteer coordination service that allows family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues to organize and create community – whether it is arranging for child care, meals delivery or organizing during a crisis.

Care Calendar is a web-based system to organize meals and other help for families during a time of illness or life changing event, such as the birth of a baby or death of a family member.  CareCalendar can also be used for long term situations, including homebound and caregiver respite care needs.

Caring Bridge is a nonprofit organization providing fee websites that connect family and friends during a serious health event, care and recovery.  It helps ease the burden of keeping family and friends informed. Authors add health updates and photos while visitors leave message of love and support in the guestbook.

So what do we mean by Taking Care of You?

Taking Care of You means allowing yourself to ask for and to receive help. You’re not imposing.

Taking Care of You often means just stepping back from the “to do” list to let someone else “take care of it,” whether it is arranging meals, transportation, child care or laundry.

Taking Care of You means finding what works to help you get through a bad day.  Let yourself go with what safely makes you feel better rather than what you think you should be doing.  If a big bowl of ice cream and a movie will help get through the evening, then just do it!

Taking Care of You means seeking professional help, a trusted friend or a support group if you are depressed, anxious or lonely.

Taking Care of You means letting someone else, like your Navigator, solve the problems involved with managing the administrative aspects of your illness, if possible.

Taking Care of the Whole You for many means exploring the mind-body connection, benefiting from complementary therapies, nutrition, exercise or exploring your faith and spirituality.

Remember, help is available.  Your Navigator can find it for you.  We’re never more than a phone call away.

For more information on helpful resources, read our Roadmaps entitled: “Cast a Wide Net – Explore Your Resources”  and “Find Financial and Practical Assistance.”