Home visits when technology reigns

Posted 3/21/24

In today’s world of self diagnosis with Google and instant communication via cell phone - send along a photo of that strange rash that broke out last night along with your vital readings …

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Home visits when technology reigns


In today’s world of self diagnosis with Google and instant communication via cell phone - send along a photo of that strange rash that broke out last night along with your vital readings including temperature, blood pressure and blood oxygen content – the days of the doctor’s house call appear to be long gone. Facetime is a step closer to a visit, but as we learned from distance learning and Zoom ,family or business calls during the pandemic, nothing replaces face-to-face communication.

This is not to suggest that the medical community is seeking to go all virtual. Advancements in technology have benefited both care givers and patients, and with declining numbers entering the medical field, technology has helped fewer physicians of addressing the needs of more. But, as I’ve discovered since undergoing surgery there’s a little mentioned network of visiting nurses and physical therapists that not only provide professional care but also serve a vital link with physicians.

On being discharged from my procedure, I was told since my recovery would be more than five days, I was eligible for a visiting nurse or physical therapist. Carol and I had talked this over and it made perfect sense. But what if there was a miraculous recovery and I could resume daily activities in a matter of days. Would I have violated the agreement ?

I decided to ask.

I got a quizzical look in response which I read – “don’t tell and we won’t ask.” As I have learned, that was a misread. Rather, I should have interpreted, “God bless you for thinking you’ll be up and charging in a matter of days.”

Having reported on their work and growth at part of the Kent Hospital community, I chose Visiting Nurses of Care New England as my agency. Soon after, a representative was at the house asking questions about my condition, medications and hours for visitations. She would not be the physical therapist visiting me twice weekly, but would monitor the therapist’s reports, and at the conclusion of the program review my progress and possible steps.

Wow, I thought, a couple of weeks is a long time, I should be good to go after a couple of visits. But the body has its own rhythm regardless of one’s wishful thinking, although having said that this break in routine has afforded time to read about the body’s reaction to pain, whether traumatically or emotionally inflicted. Dr. David Hanscom in his book “Back in Control” says the brain reacts to stress and anxiety as it does to trauma. Stick your finger in a candle flame and the message is to get it out as quickly as possible. The response to the resolution of a stressful situation, say the settlement of legal case that is seen as the cause to lost sleep, migraines, anxiety and high blood pressure may not offer such instant relief as blowing out the candle.

Soon after the initial assessment, a PT visited and after taking down my vitals and information on my mobility started me off on a series of exercises which I did at the kitchen counter because of my height.  The PT didn’t want me bending over the back of a chair. Ferra, our recent adoptee, was curious. Was I about to serve up an early lunch of kibble?

Ferra watched, her front paws on the counter. Such entertainment or homeliness would have been impossible in an office environment.  Nicole became my regular therapist. Ferra accepted her immediately, although we were discouraged from including her in the sessions. Nicole explained while some dogs have a friendly disposition, they can become overly protective and go after therapists. The rules are no pets during the sessions, which made sense to me.

Nicole took me through a series of exercises, cautioning me to stop if they increased my pain. The routine visit included a reading of vitals, noticeable changes since the prior visit and events – say a night with little sleep because of pain or a day where I increased activity – and, of course, the exercises. But there was so much more that connected me to the medical system. She questioned if my physicians had taken note of my high, but not dangerously so, blood pressure. She contacted their offices and made note with her superiors.  She suggested we get a “Cuff” so we could take our own readings. Those readings turned out to be higher. Nicole relayed the information.  I got a call from my primary care physician who thought it made sense to come in for a reading, which I did. There was no need to panic. Had I shed another layer of stress that could be attributing to the pain? It seemed that way. Adding another measure of support, VNA checked up on me Saturday and then sent Dawn to take a reading and walked me through on the proper use of the Cuff. Both readings were in range of each other.  I was already feeling better.

Yet it was more than feeling confident the information was reliable.

It was talking with people who understand the process, can answer questions and have access to one’s primary care physicians with information that can provide them a more complete picture of one’s condition and environment. It’s having a team behind you. It’s health care, but it’s more than that, it’s caring.


side up, technology


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