Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

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Darcy Thiel – Part Deux

Last month, I had the pleasure of introducing mental health counselor and author Darcy Thiel on Riding Bitch (http://ridingbitchblog.com/2013/01/04/introducing-darcy-thiel-industry-friday-9/). We continue our ongoing conversation today on the subject of caregiving, and invite you to join in with any comments and/or questions. My half of the conversation will be on Darcy’s blog next Thursday.

Q:  Darcy, had you had any previous experience with caregiving before your husband Tim was diagnosed with Stage IV gallbladder cancer in 2010?

A:  Yes.  My mother was sick in 2007.  She was finally diagnosed with colon cancer and died three weeks later.  I consider that my biggest learning curve (not that you ever stop learning).  I spoke up when I was concerned or things didn’t seem right.  But the doctors and nurses always seemed to have an explanation for things.  I tried to be very rational and told myself that I may have a good head on my shoulders, but I was no doctor.  I had to trust the medical professionals and what they were saying.  This was one situation where I followed my head before my heart.

Unfortunately, I found out later that things were not as they should have been.  There were many doctors and nurses at the hospital that were just plain wrong.  They did not understand my mom’s condition.  She was not taken care of the way she should have been.  We even caught one doctor in an outright lie.  As a result, my mother suffered tremendously at the end of her life.  It was unnecessary.  This experience changed everything for me – how I view the medical world, how I act as an advocate for myself and others, and even how I counsel clients.

Now I say without a doubt to trust your instincts.  If things don’t seem right, they probably aren’t.  If you aren’t satisfied with the answers you hear, ask again.  Ask many people.  Ask until you get what you need.  Your life may literally depend upon it.  I’m not suggesting you be cynical and assume everyone is incompetent.  But it means to be careful and pay close attention.

Q: Are there any other specific things that you would advise caregivers?

A:  Yes!  In general, I would do these things anyway, but they are an absolute must if you are dealing with any kind of chronic medical problem.  Get a notebook.  Take it with you to every single appointment.  Write everything down.  Most importantly, let the medical professionals see you do it.  Take their name and their title.  Write dates and times.  Even when they just check your vitals or something.  I have found that those professionals who are conscientious about their work and do it well will not be threatened by this.  In fact, often they encourage you to do so.  We are all human and medical professionals are too.  We all work better and more carefully when we know we are being held accountable.  My book is full of these kinds of situations.

In my second book, I will probably talk about a situation with my father when I accompanied him to the hospital.  They wanted to repeat a blood test because they didn’t believe someone had already done it.  I was assertive enough that I wouldn’t let them touch my dad until they double checked their records.  I was right and they apologized.  Not life threatening, but a good lesson in paying attention to the details.

Q: What was your experience of caregiving for your husband like? 

A:  Sometimes it was downright frightening.  I had to respect his wishes as it was his life.  But when do you intervene?  When do you take over?  In the book I talk about a time when Tim was in great pain but didn’t want me to call the doctor.  I was not confident and most of the time I didn’t even have a knowledge base to start with.  So you had to arm yourself with facts, then decipher through your individual circumstances.  Scary.  It’s too much.  But I did it because I loved him. It was truly, truly a sacred honor.  I’ve never done anything more important!

Thank you for sharing with us, Darcy.

If you would like to learn more about Darcy, Tim and their family’s journey, please check out her book “Bitter and Sweet, A Family’s Journey with Cancer,” which is being released by Baby Coop Publishing. Reviews are available at http://www.babycooppublishing.com. A trailer for the book can also be viewed there or on YouTube http://youtu.be/Xapeagk_5tE.

Other ways to reach Darcy:

her website http://www.marriageandfamilycounseling.net

her blog http://www.helpforhealing.wordpress.com

on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/HelpforHealing1

Thank you for supporting Darcy and sharing your thoughts.

Happy creating!


Introducing Darcy Thiel

I’d like to introduce a new blogging friend and fellow widow, Darcy Thiel. Darcy contacted me recently to say that she has been following Riding Bitch for a while and wanted to see if we could join forces because we have quite a bit in common. My response was, “Sure!” So, please welcome Darcy here and take a moment to learn about her story.

Darcy Thiel is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State and has been a couple and family therapist in West Seneca, NY since the mid-1990’s. She is also an accomplished speaker and presenter on various topics throughout the western NY area. Most recently Darcy completed her first book, Bitter and Sweet, A Family’s Journey with Cancer, which she is releasing via her her own Baby Coop Publishing LLC (go, Darcy!).

In the next few weeks/months Darcy and I will be exchanging information and sharing our experiences as caregivers, widows and authors. We started by asking each other a few basic questions.

Q:  Hi Darcy, welcome to Riding Bitch. Can you tell me how you become a widow?

A:  In May of 2010, my husband Tim was diagnosed unexpectedly with stage IV gallbladder cancer at age 48. One of the hallmarks of this rare disease is that there are no warning signs.  It is often not discovered until late stages.  Five months and one week later, he passed away on October 14, 2010.  It was obviously a shocking whirlwind of change.  It’s hard to believe it’s already been two years.  I think I am still trying to understand that it even happened sometimes!

Q: I understand you are writing a book about this.  Had you written before?

A:  No, I have always thought about writing, but this is my first professional attempt.  Tim and I were introduced to a website called CaringBridge when he was ill.  We chose to make our situation public and both journaled our experience as it unfolded.  People often told us we should make it into a book.  It was an exciting idea, but one I never dreamed I would actually make happen.  The book contains a lot of the writing from that site.  I started writing in earnest in February of 2012.  We are hoping to release the book this March.

Q: Who do you think is the audience for such a book?

A: This book is meant to be an inspiration to many: To the person who has been diagnosed with cancer, this book can give them an option of how they might choose to deal with their illness and its progression. To the caretaker, it can help them to feel normal with all the different feelings one goes through as they are trying to care for a person with a terminal illness. To the family and friends of those who know someone struggling with a terminal illness they will not only be able to understand more fully what their loved ones are going through (both patient and caretaker), but they will be given loads of practical ideas of how to support them. Lastly, is the human being in general. It is part of the human condition to be struggling with tough issues, many of which are unfair. Perhaps people will be inspired to try and find the gift in whatever struggle they are facing, and in turn catapult their spiritual growth.

For more information about Darcy Thiel, please visit her website http://www.marriageandfamilycounseling.net and/or her blog http://www.helpforhealing.wordpress.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/HelpforHealing1.

Riding Bitch thanks Darcy for reaching across the blogosphere, and is looking forward to future collaborations

Tomorrow (Saturday) Riding Bitch will be traveling to Vermont for the writer’s residency and therefore not blogging. But I’ll check in with you after the puppy and I get settled.

Happy creating!