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Health Care = Stories

Stories of what happens in sickness and in health, and the people who touch our lives along the way.

Becoming Your Own Advocate

By Nadine Banwell & Dennis Sahupala

We’ve gotten some frightening diagnoses. “You have cancer.” “You need a major surgery.” “You need a new stent installed in your heart.” “You’re going to lose your leg.”

Dennis: Each time, hearing these types of things escalates in your mind, to the point where we can’t think clearly.

That’s why it’s so important for us to be able to record the conversation — so we can later review and share it with our family. In the moment, I might not be able to coherently understand everything, but a family member, friend, or another care provider or doctor may be able to help me.

Nadine: The avenues for getting through the system have changed, just in the past three to five years. It’s not as simple as picking up a phone and saying I need X, Y or Z. You have to go through your insurance company.

You have to do a coordination of care with multiple levels of people. And that’s overwhelming. It’s easy to give up and say, ”I’m not going to fight.”

The patient has learn how to speak up and become their own advocate. Abridge helps me revisit my conversation and say, “Wait a minute, I got off track. I wasn’t even able to ask the questions I wanted.” This is critical, because it empowers me and my family to do just that — speak up.

Staying Strong for my Daughter

By Monique Sloan

When I found out that I needed a heart transplant, the first thing I said to my surgeon was, “I have a daughter. Please take care of me.” And he said, “I promise.”

My daughter is still young. But she’s seen me in the ICU. She’s seen me in the hospital multiple times, both before and after the transplant.

There’s times she stresses me out and I tell her, “You can’t make Mommy upset.” She sees my scar, and she says, “Mommy, you got boo boos.” And I say, “Yeah, Mommy’s got boo boos from fighting for you.” And she just cries.

Mommy has always tried her best to be here for her. On the support side of things, I’ve been so thankful to have my dad. He is the biggest part of my journey. He has been to almost every one of my appointments. He calls me every day. He calls my doctors. He’s just on top of my health all together. But when he’s not able to make it to an appointment, the Abridge app has definitely helped to fill him in.

Now I have a new heart. But it’s still a journey. I’m still going through a fight. But I’d like to do whatever I can to help any patient that has a diagnosis of heart failure. Don’t give up — you can do it!

Ground Zero for Lyme disease. Ground Zero for Truth.

By Andrea Desiderio

I was hospitalized this year after I had a high fever, stabbing pain, vertigo, chills, nausea, and liver failure.

The infectious disease specialists found bullseye rashes all over my back and diagnosed me with disseminated Lyme disease. We live in ground zero for ticks and Lyme, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Unexpectedly, I got two false negative results for Lyme disease. Because of this, in the follow-up with my PCP a week later, he was not convinced that I had Lyme disease. My PCP wanted to take me off the doxycycline treatment that was helping me recover.

But because I had used Abridge to record the conversations I had with 2 of my infectious disease specialists, I was able to play back the recording where they said, “No other illness or insect bite could have caused your classic bullseye rash — it’s absolutely Lyme!” My PCP agreed after hearing the conversation, and kept me on my doxycycline.

Abridge was a lifesaver for me because I wouldn’t have been properly treated without it. If it wasn’t for this app, I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out. I tell everyone about Abridge — it’s important for patients to have a recording to advocate for themselves!