Advocating for a loved one can be a tricky thing - especially if it's your first time.
Katelyn writes about an incident where she learned the importance of advocating and standing up for your loved one.
Katelyn's boyfriend, Caleb, was involved in a vehicle accident that left him a paraplegic. It was the morning after his spinal surgery, just two days after his injury. "Caleb was in a world of pain dimmed by the powerful haze of medication," shares Katelyn. "In a state like that, you are not the normal you. You are the confused, hazy you. You are not the you who is confident and present in everything going on in the world around. This can complicate things for the person who needs to advocate for you. You don’t always know what it is that you need, you can’t always articulate it clearly."
The couple, still reeling from Caleb's injury, were surprised when an occupational therapist entered the room, and with no clear explanation of why, began to forcefully push Caleb into a seated position.
"She pushed his shoulders up, and she held him up in bed with her shoulder while he screamed at her to stop."
Katelyn watched in horror. She was frozen, unsure what to do. "I was torn between not knowing if I should encourage him to sit up, or throw the therapist out of the room," she says.
"People always tell you that the doctor is the authority in the room, the doctor knows what s/he is talking about, the doctor is right. What do you do when the doctor isn’t right?"
The therapist was in the room only 5 minutes, yet her acts combined with her lack of explanation, left Katelyn and Caleb wondering what they could have done to avoid such a painful scenario.
Fortunately, the next therapist that came in a couple days later had a much different demeanor and approach. "A different occupational therapist, Roxy, came in and spent twenty full minutes explaining to Caleb why he needed to get up, how it would benefit him, what would happen if he didn’t, how she was going to do it. Only after he fully understood what was going on and agreed, did she start working with him on sitting up."
After looking back on the incident with the first therapist, Katelyn realized the importance of speaking up on behalf of a loved one when you feel something isn't right.
"My advice to anyone who reads this is that if you have any suspicion that something a person is doing is wrong, regardless of whether he or she is a doctor or a person of authority, stop it. Question it. Stand up for yourself and the people that you love."
Advocating for yourself and for a loved one are important tasks when navigating the aftermath of a life-changing injury or diagnosis.
Be sure to share this post and encourage others to speak up.