Patient Communications
A multi-dimensional approach

A note from the author

As my family navigated what is arguably the best healthcare
system in the world, we learned that patient communications
rest on more than telling the doctor where it hurts. Being
informed about new developments, learning where to find
information for comparisons, and educating ourselves about
medications were just a few of the new dimensions we
discovered. I hope this page will be of help to anyone
experiencing illness. If you have comments, please email
them to me at the address below. I do my best to answer all
my email, but it may sometimes take a week or so if I am
traveling.—Kay Day

A basis for comparison

It is useful to be informed about your symptoms or your
condition, even if there is a diagnosis. New developments in
medicine occur on an almost-daily basis. Even as my book
was going into production, we added information about
developments related to our daughter's abdominal pain.

Tip: If you don't want to bookmark multiple sites, open your
email program and copy/paste the links into an email
addressed to yourself. Then save it as a draft. Here are links
that may be useful to the patient in learning more about illness.

Caution: Don't trust a site unless it has a description of the
entity that created it. A reputable site will have an "about" link,
usually at the bottom of the entry page in small print. Only trust
sites established by groups that are non-commercial.

Some sites will offer a digest approach to links. Those sites
can be helpful. But be sure to verify that the information you
trust comes from someone you trust.

The Merck Manual
Good source for information about diagnosis and therapy.
Searchable. Easy-to-understand. Published by Merck
Pharmaceutical Company.

The Family Health Guide
Nuts and bolts site; Harvard Medical School.

National Library of Medicine
US government site; "world's largest medical library."
Journal of the American Medical Association
Professional journal on a more challenging reading level, but
this is what physicians read. Varying fees for access to full

Handy, user-friendly medical dictionary. Don't go into
cyberspace without it.

The spiritual side of illness

In my book's introduction, Dr. Campo discusses the Eastern
approach in medicine and how the mind relates to the body.
My own inclination is prayer. I prayed and I asked others to do
so. Regardless of your faith, your spirit will suffer illness along
with your body. Seek healing in that regard as well.

During our daughter's illness, I insisted that she keep to a
basic routine. Towards the end, she was almost bedridden, so
I viewed it as imperative that she continue with her school work
(on homebound status) and shower every day. At times, I felt
cruel, but it was the best thing for her. We viewed her illness
as an assailant, with us as the warriors. In the end, that was of
tremendous benefit to her.

Also, find something that brings you comfort—a holy book,
poetry, keeping a creative journal, playing a board game with
someone. Whatever takes your mind off your sickness and
gives you a glimmer of light is therapeutic.

A note on medication

I edited an award-winning pharmaceutical journal for a
number of years. I learned that there is no medication that is
perfect. If you experience unpleasant side effects, don't just
stop taking the medication. All medications make their
presence known in your body. Don't just talk to your doctor, talk
to your pharmacist too.


Email the author with comments
about the book or remarks in general.
The author is available for workshops and presentations.
The challenges of moving to another state;
the frustration in her daughter's mystery
illness; 13 baby hamsters.

Join Kay Day in this informative, often
humorous, journey to help her daughter heal
and to reunite her family

Killing Earl from Ocean Publishing, 2005.

Self-help recordkeeping

Physicians keep records; so should you. Keep a journal and
make notes about advice and treatments. Keep a record
detailing when your symptoms worsen or improve.

Obtain copies of your test images and the radiology reports.
Keep them organized, not only for medical purposes but also
for billing purposes.

Keep a record of the mileage you incur. If it's related to any
aspect of your medical care, it may be deductible as a tax
expense, provided you meet the requirements for deducting

No patient is an island

Do talk with others about your illness, not in an oppressive
sense. No one wants to hear a complete rundown of your
latest episode. But you'll be amazed at what you learn by
talking to others. In the book, I recount an experience that
occurred when I was buying my daughter a bathrobe. The
sales clerk mentioned she'd suffered from abdominal pain.
The conversation we had provided information I didn't have
before meeting this young woman.

Communications: everyman's land

Keep a list of questions. Often, a question will occur when
you're not in the doctor's office. Don't pester a physician's
office with multiple calls. Try to be judicious and respect his or
her time as you would your own. Always compare answers by
using the Internet or your library.

Try hard to not clutter up your information with unnecessary
anecdotes. Yes, let the doctor know the medicine made you
throw up. Don't tell him you called your sister and had to mop
the bathroom after. Try not to interrupt when your physician is
talking to you. And if your physician isn't a good listener, seek
another. The most important primary tool for any physician is
listening to the patient.

On second opinions

Without exception, our daughter's doctors did not mind that
we sought opinions from others. If your doctor does mind, find
another physician.