M is for Money (and Mindfulness) – #AtoZ Challenge 2018
There are two separate for the letter M today for I couldn’t decide between the two. First, we are going to address money and it’s relevance in health matters. Secondly, we are going to address mindfulness as a way of coping with your life regardless of whether you are a patient or a caregiver.
They say that money can’t buy happiness and to many, that is a trite, pointless and inaccurate statement. At times it may seem insensitive or even judgmental when money judgments are made about patients by providers. I’ve had many providers look at me and make statements about my lack of ability to afford very expensive medications without prescription insurance.
Some prescription medications are quite expensive regardless of their availability as generics. Inhalers are typically several hundred dollars per month and that estimate is being conservative. I once had a medication ordered that was 400 dollars per month. When I inquired about the generic version of the medication the pharmacist informed me that the generic was actually 600 dollars per month. I have yet to be able to figure out how this made any sense whatsoever given that generics typically are cheaper than the original brand specific medication.
The point is that when a provider tells a patient that they simply aren’t making enough of an effort to properly acquire and use the medications provided it can result in the patient feeling insulted. Worse yet providers often document that a patient is being non-compliant with their medication regimen. I offer an alternative explanation that is quite succinct. Being poor does not mean you are non-compliant. Actually having the medication or the means with which to get it and making a choice not to do so makes you non-compliant.
Further, when a provider labels a patient as non-compliant the ramifications of such a statement are great. They can range from the patient feeling as if they have done something wrong, or otherwise failed to take proper care of themselves, which can lead to a potentially dangerous downward spiraling emotional state for the patient to an outright refusal of the provider to continue treating the patient for not doing what had been ordered. This can result in the patient feeling as if it were a punitive approach and therefore obviously should be avoided unless it was meant to be.
Switching topics slightly let’s explore mindfulness. By the provider practicing mindfulness, they can avoid treating the patient in such a punitive manner, instead of discussing potential alternatives that may be more within the patient’s available means. Doing this reinforces the concept of a team-based approach to medical care that includes both provider and patient as equal members of the team.
The patient can practice mindfulness in a totally different manner as a tool to help manage pain, stress, physical, or emotional trauma. By doing so the patient may be able to successfully manage such things as severe anxiety without the regular intervention of frequent anti-anxiety medications unless the symptoms being experienced are unusually severe. This can apply to pain management as well. This is not to say that medications are neither necessary nor appropriate at times. The point is that by learning techniques of mindfulness one can use these techniques as an adjunct whether in place of or in conjunction with appropriate prescription medications.
Providers and patients alike should learn to practice even one of the simplest forms of mindfulness by attempting to understand the other person’s point of view or position. By doing so we may be more able to effectively communicate with each other and accomplish whatever goals we are trying to reach.
Do you have a story to share? Please share with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear your point of view.