In 2012, a cardio defibrillator was implanted in my heart; the Electrophysiologist told me it had an eight-year life expectancy before replacing the battery. I adhered to the physician’s instructions and was confident my device would relax easily.
Early in 2020, with the unchecked spread of COVID, deliberate disinformation from health officials, and some of the nation’s governors, my cardiologist informed me that my scheduled battery change was due to the quarantine not a priority. So instead, I was given a heart monitor, which communicated daily with the device manufacturer. This state of limbo would continue until my defibrillator battery reached a critically low level. Then I can replace it.
I am a part of the group of people with preexisting conditions that would be exacerbated if I contracted COVID 19. Having consumed hours of television and daily briefings from both the White House’s Dr. Fauci, Governors Cuomo, and Pritzker, I waited not so patiently for the procedure.
In January 2021, six months after my original replacement date, my ICD device battery expired, and the outpatient procedure was performed without a hitch. However, this waiting experience was nerve-wracking.
One lesson from this experience is that we all have mental models that guide our actions and interaction. The textbook definition of a mental model is …an explanation of someone’s thought processes about how something works in the real world. It represents the surrounding world, relationships between its various parts, and a person’s intuitive perception of their acts and consequences. My models crave order, yet I have very little control over how my mental models come into conflict with others.
My first Electrophysiologist provided thorough education on what to expect when he inserted the device. Warning signs. Care of the device and actions that I could take to extend the life of the device’s battery and increase my heart’s natural functioning.
Walking, exercising, eating a healthier diet, and limiting salt intake have become part of my health journey. However, the battery still had a shelf life that required replacement.
Enter another Electrophysiologist with a different demeanor and different patient/doctor dynamics. To him, he looked at the reports generated by the technician, and that was the extent of his curiosity. I was a nuisance with my questions. As the kids say, he thought I was being extra whenever I asked him a question.
My first Electrophysiologist was a part of my care team; he educated me about the benefits and limitations of the device. He listened to my fears, and we established a bond. He saw me as a person with hopes and dreams. I was always more than my heart’s status or my device regulating my fast arrhythmias.
The second physician didn’t see a need to establish a relationship. His approach to modern medicine lost the physical connections. It was all about billable hours instead of patient care. During the months leading up to the procedure, I reached out to my first doctor’s staff, who provided reassurances.
Even when time is not on your side, don’t settle for a physician who sees you as billable hours or who simply does not care about your physical or emotional health. Take the time to discern what you need from your health care professional. Your health care needs to be holistic rather than provided by someone with great technical skills.
Joyce A. Brown is a motivational speaker and author who uses her creative energy to give voice and meaning to the challenges women face in all walks of life. She grew up in Rockford, Illinois in a household of strong women, but her professional career expanded her reach into Peoria and Battle Creek, Michigan. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and has served as a direct services worker, executive director, program director for a major foundation, and entrepreneur. Joyce has experienced many uplifting moments as a professional and as a dedicated parent and strives to bring those events and lessons to life through her characters in the contemporary fiction novels she pens. Visit her Author’s Page