What would you do in the following scenario?
On Christmas Eve, you are very unpleasantly surprised to learn that a scan has revealed a cyst on your pancreas—a large cyst near a main artery, and according to statistics, the kind that has a 40% chance to evolve into cancer. The official “by the book” medical advice from the surgeon calls for an 8-hour operation on your 76-year-old diabetic body that includes not only the removal of the cyst, but of the spleen and gall bladder as well. The potential complications are innumerable, ranging from the risk of infection that every patient fears, to the risk of stroke you in particular fear because you would need to cease taking blood-thinners and heart rhythm medications prior to the procedure. And then there is the recovery—two weeks in the hospital, three months doing nothing, and one year to fully recover. Finally, with your head still spinning in shock, you would need to factor in insurance costs and financial commitments.
How could you possibly make an informed choice about what to do? Where would you turn to get information and guidance. This pancreatic cyst scenario is not simply an invented saga to make a point about navigating the health care maze. This is a real-life story that occurred fairly recently with Jimmy (the patient) and Sandra (his wife). Sandra recalls: “Going through this experience, with a totally unexpected diagnosis, we felt lost and alone. Faced with this horrible surprise, we both felt very confused, and did not know where to turn next.”
But unlike so many other patients and families, they had the good fortune of receiving assistance by OnPulse, who walked hand in hand with them toward the objective of making a sound decision about the surgery. Sandra remembers that “Corey and Shelly were wonderful. They stayed in contact, even when we were waiting for answers. They made us feel like we were important. The ultimate goal was to help us feel comfortable.”
It was so much more than just caring comfort, however. After test results early in the process came back, “Corey jumped in and went to battle,” Sandra says. OnPulse then arranged for Jimmy to see a top specialist at a renowned university hospital. ‘It is unheard of to get the appointment we got as quickly as we did. Normally it would be a month or two to see that man,” according to Sandra.
There was more. Sandra says that “Corey reached out of his inner circle” all the way to the University of Pittsburgh to assist the family in gathering additional expert data and opinions. And Shelly was instrumental in helping the family with insurance concerns. She utilized the OnPulse benefit team and contacted the insurance company and Medicare to sort out the medical benefits and coverage options relevant to this situation.
In their 30 years of marriage, Sandra and Jimmy had developed a large support network, and family members were invited to participate in conference calls to pose questions and gain clarity. Through it all, Sandra says, “Corey never pressured us and was always upbeat.”
After gathering all of the information and receiving all of the support, Jimmy elected to not undergo the surgery. Sandra remembers him ultimately stating: “I feel great.” He still does. Sometimes going against the grain feels right; sometimes electing not to have a medical procedure is the right decision in a given set of circumstances; sometimes doing nothing is OK.