Caring for Patients Outside of Pharmacy Practice

March 19, 2015

The 2 women most involved in my life are now patients of mine outside of my pharmacy practice.

The last half of winter felt incredibly long to me. It started with my mom's heart surgery in early February and then picked up speed from there.

Earlier this month, my wife, Sheryl, underwent major pelvic surgery that is going to leave her on the couch for about the entire month. The 2 women most involved in my life are now patients of mine outside of my pharmacy practice.

So, on my days off, I’m a caregiver. Mom's progress has been minimal since her surgery, and Sheryl just had hers. I'm cooking meals, cleaning up, dispensing meds, and doing laundry like Mr. Mom, except that unlike the character played by Michael Keaton, I also have a full-time job outside the home. One should ask the question: how is this situation treating the third patient?

Not well. I'm running at full throttle all the time. I go to work in that boiler room of a pharmacy, but at least when I'm at work, I know that I will only be in 1 place for the day.

I'm stressed out, and in a bipolar individual like myself, that can lead to mania. Prolonged mania can result in a visit to the nice, quiet hospital with the locking ward doors.

The only thing I have on my side is that I'm sleeping like a corpse, so I can begin somewhere near baseline every morning. However, the limits of my medication are exceeded on occasion. At work, it has made for some interesting situations.

I take a lot of pride in how I care for my patients. I try to keep it light and compassionate, attempting to stay mindful of their sense of humor and how much to show them of mine. Of late, it has not been much.

There is no end to this anytime soon. Mom's progress was hindered by a pleural effusion, in which physiological gelatin composed of blood, plasma, and whatever else leeched into her chest cavity after her surgery. Her heart was trying to beat despite all that, and to put it mildly, it wasn't going well. She had shortness of breath after walking 30 feet and saw no improvement since her surgery.

Fortunately, a highly skilled interventional radiologist drained the pleura, and hopefully this will help Mom's recovery progress. I don't see how it can't. The more independence she gains, the more peace of mind I will acquire. Sheryl is progressing nicely, but still has a way to go.

This is my reality for the time being. So be it.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, is in it for the long haul.