How to Support a Loved One Diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolism
By Oliver Thompson, Aug 23 2023 0 Comments

Understanding Pulmonary Embolism

Before my son, Oscar, showed me just how strong and resilient he could be, Pulmonary Embolism was just some medical term that I knew about but never really comprehended. But oh boy how things can change! When one you hold dear gets diagnosed with such a condition, understanding the condition becomes a priority. Pulmonary Embolism, for those who may be as unaware as I once was, refers to the sudden blockage of a major blood vessel in your lung, usually by a blood clot. You see, these blood clots often originate from the legs, taking a trip up to the lungs, hence landing there and causing a real wild party that no one is happy about.

Responding to the Initial Shock

Let's face it: being informed that a loved one has been diagnosed with pulmonary embolism will most likely send you into a state of shock. I remember feeling as though my own heart had stopped when the doctor informed us, and let me tell you, it could definitely be a contender for the "Scariest Roller Coaster Ride of Your Life". The first step in supporting this loved one is handling this shock and keeping your emotions in check. Your loved one needs your strength at this time. Approach this situation positively, understanding that worrying will not change a thing, and that nothing can be achieved without a clear head.

The Power of Presence

It's understandable that after the initial shock and chaotic hospital trips, one may feel a sense of helplessness. All of us want to suddenly transform into superheroes, curing all ailments with a single swoop of our magic cape, but alas, reality grounds us. However, this doesn't mean we're powerless. Your physical and emotional presence can mean more than you realise. Show up, be there and let them know they're not alone in this. Ask about their day, crack a funny joke, tell them about that time you tripped over your own shoe. Anything that reassures them of your unwavering support through this tumultuous time.

Navigating the Medical Maze

Medical jargon can be confusing and the influx of information after diagnosis can seem overwhelming. Make it your mission to understand everything there is to know about Pulmonary Embolism. Start at the very basics: what is it? How is it diagnosed? Then move onto the treatments available, potential side effects and all the details in between. This way you can help relay complex information in simpler terms, making the journey less daunting for your loved one.

Encouraging a Healthy Lifestyle Change

You may not be able to wave a magic wand and make everything okay, but encouraging a healthier lifestyle can do wonders. Dietary changes in conjunction with regular and light exercise can have a positive impact on your loved one's health. Remember, we're not aiming for a complete overhaul, but slow and gradual changes which can aid in managing this illness better.

Managing Medications and Appointments

With a diagnosis like Pulmonary Embolism comes medications. Lots of it. From anticoagulants to help prevent clots, to pain medications, it can get rather overwhelming. I know Oscar often struggled remembering all his medications. As such, managing your loved one’s medication can greatly support them. Keep a record, set reminders, essentially, do whatever it takes to ensure they're on track. Same goes for hospital appointments. Being present in consultations, understanding the progress and next steps, and even helping to ask the right questions can greatly assist your loved one in getting better.

Importance of Emotional Support

While we focus heavily on the physical aspects of the illness, we must not forget the emotional trauma it brings along. Waking up each day to a reality they never asked for can be depressing. Showing your understanding, empathy, and love can play quite the role in their mental healing. Encourage them to share their feelings and reassure them that it's okay to not feel okay. Provide affirmation that though the journey is tough, they're tougher! A loving hug, an understanding nod, a quick pep talk, or a joke about a kangaroo needing a car insurance (Trust me, I've given that one a go), can all make the world of a difference.

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