Three Unusual Items to Add to Your Gift List This Holiday Season

This time of year people are compiling lists of gift ideas, suggestions for getting the perfect present for that special someone. I have a somewhat different list in my mind. Perhaps it’s because of my recent outrage, anxiety, and disappointment over a few situations I experienced.

Gift list for the MS community

I believe my list is an important one for the MS community. See what you think of the three I list below:

Give the gift of listening

Imagine a world where being sick doesn't mean you must also battle with billing departments over outstanding or incorrect balances on medical bills. Imagine billing clerks showing empathy to help you solve a coding or any billing snafu that led to an erroneous balance. Imagine trained clerks not sounding condescending or being rude when you ask a litany of necessary questions. Imagine billing departments not forcing patients to turn into defense attorneys for the sake of a corrected bill. Imagine never having to spend inordinate amounts of time waiting on hold, waiting for someone to help you.

Give the gift of sound advice

We all know the stress of living with an incurable and unpredictable disease. We also know the issues of fatigue, mobility, cognitive dysfunction, bowel and bladder, vision problems, numbness and weakness, spasticity, mood swings, depression (shall I go on?) that we struggle with every day. The following story pushed my stress level to the limit.

Ultrasound for possible kidney obstruction

I recently had an ultrasound for possible kidney obstruction due to blossoming kidney stones in my body. I’m a breeder; these will be my 8th and 9th. The doctor advised me to go to the local hospital where an ultrasound would be performed. His staff said the hospital would forward my test records directly to them. I understood that to mean the written report AND disc would be sent.

I was also told there would be no contrast for the test.

You need "the drink"

I phoned the hospital to schedule an appointment. They had a prescription from my doctor already in their system. The clerk insisted I needed to pick up “the drink” the day before the test. The hospital is not around the corner from me. What, I blurted out? I thought the doctor said no contrast! No, they replied, you need “the drink.” That meant another trip to the hospital.

I dutifully went, believing they knew something I didn’t. I parked, walked to the lobby, stood on a long line to check-in (mandatory), received my pass, walked to radiology, signed in, waited for “the drink” - and was then told I didn’t need it. I never needed it. No apologies, no explanations.

I was furious.

Advised differently, again

I went to the hospital the next day for the ultrasound. I phoned the doctor’s office the day after to find out if they received the reports. I was told I need to pick up the disc myself. What? Your office told me the disc and report would be sent directly to you. Why did you advise me differently?

I was put on hold. The clerk returned saying she had to take another call. After pouring my angry, tired heart out to her she showed no empathy, and instead took another call. As an afterthought, she added we’ll see you at your next appointment.

Great stress and exhaustion

I am seething. I am considering changing doctors. This is unacceptable. It not only caused me great stress but forced me to use my legs when they were screaming for rest.

The advice I was given was wrong from the start. I always believe if you’re going to do a job, any job, do it well with intelligence, understanding, and compassion. Anything less is unacceptable and inappropriate.

Give the gift of compassion

We all have MS differently. We all react to MS medications differently. We all choose to take medications, or not take medications, based on the choices we uniquely make. We all advocate differently. We all act, talk, think, believe, observe, love, hate, are indifferent, understand and live differently. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we accepted our differences instead of making snap judgments about others or expressing angry statements before weighing the truth? Wouldn’t we be better off opening our hearts to understand that if someone chooses a path different from our own it doesn’t mean it’s bad or wrong? It’s just not the same as ours, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Even identical twins are not exactly alike. They inhabit different spaces and have their own hopes, dreams, illnesses, and joys. If we could walk around in someone else's shoes perhaps we’d have a better understanding of their reality, and respect them for it.

Don't you think we should all try a little harder?

I wish the world was not as chaotic as it is. I wish there was peace on earth, goodwill toward men. I wish “do unto others as others would do unto you” was a reality. I know it isn’t but don’t you think we should try harder to improve the human condition?

That’s my Utopian dream.

In the upcoming holiday season, I hope your paths cross with people who are compassionate and caring, thoughtful and kind. I hope you receive sound advice from those you depend on and find good listeners who are there when you need them. You deserve it. Every single day.

Happy holidays!

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