Ruth talks about how a patient advocate helped her navigate through her back surgery and recovery, and how being pain free let her live fully again.
Before surgery, because of my back pain I had visions of being flat on my back.
“I had sort of come to the conclusion that I’d be going to a nursing home. When I came out of spine surgery, I thought ‘I am going to move my right leg,’ because that’s where all the pain was. And there was no pain. That was the first day. The second day the surgeon came and said ‘Come on, we are going for a walk.’ I couldn’t believe it. He took my arm and we went way out to the waiting room. Then he took his arm away. And there wasn’t any pain. It was a miracle. For me, it was a miracle. To be free a pain after all that time. I got my life back.”
Doctors are on a pedestal as far as our generation is concerned.
“We wouldn’t press a doctor and say ‘No, you’ve got to do better than that.’ I’ve never once said to a doctor ‘I want a second opinion on this.’”
You have to be in the system to know how it works. If you are not, you sit back waiting and weeks will go by. You need an advocate.
“I had many visits to the hospital before the surgery, all the paper work. Laurie [patient advocate] came with me for every one of those. And it was wonderful. Whenever we were with a doctor, she did the talking. And it was good. The doctors were not intimidated by that. She sat with John when I had the surgery. And she was so professional. She really was. And they saw that. She really knew her stuff. She would call. She was involved the whole time.”
“Did you paint when you had such bad back pain?”
“Well, I painted a bit standing, and then a bit sitting. And then I just couldn’t do it anymore… This is the painting I finished after I had my back surgery.”