I'm a Caregiver, Not a Medical Professional

Does your husband have memory problems? Is your husband depressed? Does your husband have sleep apnea? These are some of the questions I’ve been asked repeatedly for the last seven years. In each case, my answer was, “No.”

I’m not a medical professional.  If you  aren’t either, you may have found yourself having some of these same conversations.

“No, my husband doesn’t have any memory problems. I haven’t noticed anything wrong.” He was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

“No, my husband isn’t depressed.” Actually, he was.

“No, my husband doesn’t have sleep apnea. He doesn’t gasp for air during the night while he’s sleeping.” I was partially correct. He doesn’t gasp for air, but he does have sleep apnea.

It was after the sleep apnea diagnosis that I realized:

  1. I’m not a medical professional.
  2. My track record clearly shows that I’m clueless.

We found out about the MCI because he was being tested for it. We discovered the depression because a support group leader saw indicators and suggested we see a doctor. We became aware of the sleep apnea because after being asked for at least six years if he had it, a new doctor suggested we check.

I have a couple of suggestions to improve this situation for other people. If you’re a medical professional, instead of asking if the person has a particular problem, how about a slight change in wording. Ask, “Have you ever been told that you/they have ….” or “Have you/they ever been tested for….” I have no idea if my husband has certain problems, primarily because I have no idea what I’m looking for. Remember, I’m not a medical professional.

I have also decided to be more direct when dealing with someone who asks about my husband’s medical history. Next time I’m asked, “Does your husband have…” if I’m not aware of that diagnosis, I’m going to say that I’ve never been told he has that and then ask if there is a test that can be run to check for it.

I may not be a medical professional, but I can definitely be a more proactive patient advocate, and hopefully, working together, the doctors and I can get my husband the help he needs sooner rather than later.









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