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Esther Hamblin: A Patient’s Perspective on Healthcare

This episode features a patient’s perspective on healthcare from Esther Hamblin. She joined the Perspectives on Healthcare podcast with Rob Oliver as part of the Guinness World Record Setting patient interview marathon. Esther is from Virginia and, as you will hear, is a stay-at-home mom who is concerned about her children’s health. This is interview 48 in the marathon.

Here are 3 things that stood out as Esther Hamblin gave us a patient’s perspective on healthcare:

  • A Healthcare Hero, like Dr. Shane, is somebody who takes a personal interest in their patients and goes above and beyond in caring for them.
  • Quality healthcare is not just about caring for the individual but realizing that it has an impact on their entire family.
  • Listening to your patients is imperative. In Esther situation, a provider dismissing her symptoms led to significant postpartum complications. Medical professionals need to listen to their patients and take their concerns seriously!

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Here is the text of my interview with Esther Hamblin as she gave a patient’s perspective on health care.

Introduction to Esther Hamblin

Rob Oliver: Welcome to the podcast.

Esther Hamblin: Hello, how are you?

Rob Oliver: I am phenomenal. We start with the easiest question. What is your name?

Esther Hamblin: My name is Esther and I am from Virginia.

Rob Oliver: You stole the second easiest question.

Esther Hamblin: Oh, sorry.

Rob Oliver: Which is quite okay. I’m going to give you a little piece of insight. Guinness requires that there’d be at least five questions in order for it to constitute a real interview. I have at least seven questions, and just in case I forget one or in case somebody steals one, so we should be good to go still. But just giving you the heads up as to what’s your name, and where are you from are my two cheater questions to get us started on the road to having five questions right away. So very cool.

Esther Hamblin: Okay.

Rob Oliver: All right.

Esther Hamblin: So I’m from Dinwiddie, Virginia. There you go. Excellent. So can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your experiences in healthcare, please?

Esther Hamblin: My name is Esther. I’m 30 years old. I am the mother of two children and I’m a stay-at-home mama. I have had some good experiences and some bad experiences with the healthcare system. I’ve had two C-sections with my babies. And so with each one, oh, goodness, for my first one, it was kind of like, oh, goodness, for my first baby when I had him. It was kind of scary. We had, I was laboring for 32 hours, and then I kind of cracked at one point. And then they got me back, which was great. And then I ended up having to have a C-section because I was failure to progress. But I’ve also had some good experiences with my kids’ pediatricians. They’re amazing. I love them. They really know what they’re doing. So I’m like, love my kids’ pediatricians. So…

Have you met a healthcare hero?

Rob Oliver: Yeah. It’s good that you’ve got someone like that that you can rely on and that you can relate to and say, like, this is quality care, which I guess leads me right into the next question, which is, have you met a healthcare hero in your journeys?

Esther Hamblin: Yeah. I will say that it would be one of my kids’ pediatricians. I love all of them, but Dr. Shane really stands out to me because it was this past December that Weston was having a really hard time with croup. And he was having a hard time breathing. And he wasn’t there that day because I called in and I said, we need to switch out his medication because he’s not able to take it because he keeps on throwing it up. Is there anything that we can do? And he said, well, he called me. So he wasn’t there that day, and he was able to call me back. He called me back when he got back in the office. Like, I just want to make sure, were you taken care of? I want to make sure that your son got the right medication because we would hate for him to have trouble breathing at night because that’s extremely scary. And I will say, Dr. Shane, my son’s pediatrician was spot on this past December.

Rob Oliver: That is, give a shout out to Dr. Shane.

Esther Hamblin: Yes, I love Dr. Shane.

What does quality health care mean?

Rob Oliver: So what does quality health care mean to you?

Esther Hamblin: Well, it means a lot because to me, I’m like, now that I have two children, health care does not just affect me anymore. It affects my entire family. And so to me, I’m like, so if they make a decision that could just affect, they think it might just be affecting me, but it’s actually like a ripple effect because if I’m not well, then I’m not well enough to take care of my children or my family. And also, another thing about quality health care that means to me, I’m like, I want them to be knowledgeable and know what they’re doing and not just like, oh, we’ll just do something random. And I also want them to pay attention to my needs instead of just like, oh, well, it might be this, and then just send me on my merry way.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. So you want them to, I’m hearing you say, you want them to pay attention, and you want them to follow through enough to make sure that they’re answering your entire question.

Esther Hamblin: Yes, because to me, I’m like, sometimes I actually had an incident this past pregnancy. I was sent back to the hospital a week after I gave birth, and I had a potential spinal leak. And the anesthesiologist that took care of me, he didn’t listen to me. I said, I’m having extreme headaches. I’m sensitive to light. And he was just like, there’s no way that you have a spinal leak because he used the smallest catheter. And he didn’t pay attention to me, and I’m like. And so it was just, like I said, I’ve had good and bad times with health care, so I like to listen.

Rob Oliver: So OK, if you’ll permit me, I have my own story that goes exactly with that, in which right after my spinal cord injury, I was in the hospital, and they tried a new medication with me. And I called the nurse, and I said, listen, I feel nauseous. I feel like I’m going to throw up. And my nurse drew herself up to the full height of her 5 foot nothingness and looked down at me and said, you can’t feel your stomach. And OK, and it gave me no small pleasure. In about 20 minutes, I did throw up, and it was like, yep, you have to come back, and you got to clean this up. Because I was trying to tell you that this was coming, and you apparently knew better than I did. But in the end, you’ve got to listen to the patient. Does that make sense to you at all?

Esther Hamblin: It does, because to me, I’m like, I can’t tell you what you’re feeling. You can’t tell me what I’m feeling. And I’m like, when he just completely dismissed me like that, and he just wrote it off as, oh, it’s hormonal, and it’s postpartum headaches, you’ll be fine. And he sent me on my merry way. He sent me back to the ER, and I’m like, these are excruciating. I’m like, I could barely function because of how bad they were. And I’m like, thank goodness for my sister. She was here helping with the babies, and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gotten through those headaches. So it was awful.

Rob Oliver: Yep. And what did it take for them to finally acknowledge what it was?

Esther Hamblin: Actually, he sent me back to the ER, and they gave me pain medicine, and they sent me on my merry way. And I’m like, I still had lingering headaches for up to almost six weeks afterwards. And I was looking at the symptoms of a spinal leak, and I had all the symptoms of them. And I actually, they said that they can heal themselves, and it takes upwards of six weeks. And I’m like, right around the six-week mark, I finally stopped having excruciating headaches. And I’m like, well, at least it stopped.

Rob Oliver: Right, and I don’t know what the treatment is for them, but what I’m hearing you say is, you know, you had six weeks of agony when there was something that could have been done. I’m hoping.

Esther Hamblin: Yeah, because with a spinal leak, they can do what’s called a blood patch. It’s where they take your own blood, and then they put it in where the hole could be, and basically to stop the leaking of the spinal fluid, I guess. OK. Yeah, so I’m like, my sister-in-law actually had one, and she says to have a blood patch done is excruciating pain. So I’m like, I’m kind of glad that I dodged that bullet, but then I’m like, I don’t know, I had six weeks.

Rob Oliver: Right, so I guess the question then is, would you rather have six weeks of intense headaches or one day of intense pain? Which one is your choice?

Esther Hamblin: It definitely would have been the one day, but the anesthesiologist kind of just passed me off, and I’m like, well, I’m kind of hurting. I’m not making this up, I promise.

Rob Oliver: You know, I’ve been amazed. I’ve heard multiple people say today, Maranda Holder was on, and she was saying that she was talking to the doctor and was saying, I’m not lying. And so how do we get to a place where medical professionals are listening to people, and people are getting the feeling, they think I’m making this up, or they think I’m lying, or they don’t trust me. It’s more than just saying they’re not hearing what I’m saying. There is a greater element to it in which they’re saying, not only are they not hearing what I’m saying, they’re just hearing it, and they’re saying it’s not true. How does that resonate with you?  

Esther Hamblin: To me, I feel like sometimes some people go into the medical field for the wrong reasons, where they are like, oh, I’m here to make a paycheck, and that’s it. And if you’re in the medical field for that reason, then you shouldn’t be there. You should be there to care about people, because I used to work in a dental office before I became a stay-at-home mom, and all of our doctors there were awesome. And they listened to you to make sure that everything was just fine. And I’m like, the people that go into the medical field for the wrong reasons, I’m like, go into somewhere where you don’t deal with people, because everybody’s different, everybody has different pain tolerances. And you might think that I’m making this up, saying that I have a 10 on the scale from 1 to 10. And I just think that, I don’t know, I just wish people would be more caring of others sometimes.

Medical professionals understanding their patients

Rob Oliver: Yeah, I completely understand. And again, this is a theme that I keep hearing come through there, is people want to be treated as people. That’s it. So OK, what do you wish your medical provider understood about you?

Esther Hamblin: Um, oh, goodness, I kind of said this in what does quality health care mean to me, but that every medical decision that they make, that it’s not just me anymore. It’s my two babies. I want to live to be a very old woman and watch my babies grow up and have grand babies of my own. And that I’m like, don’t be just so willing to put me on a medication that could have terrible side effects, and I won’t be able to live a healthy life, if that makes any sense.

Rob Oliver: It does make sense. And what I’m hearing you say is you want them to understand that you have a life outside of the doctor’s office, outside of the treatment room. Is that correct?

Esther Hamblin: Yes, yeah. Because to me, I’m like, I love doing things with my children. I love running around and playing in the yard with them. And I don’t want to be like we’re say it’s like I get put on a medication that the side effect is nausea. I don’t want to be nauseous or just not be able to do anything, so.

An idea to improve the quality of health care

Rob Oliver: Right. OK. All right, Esther, last question for you. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?

Esther Hamblin: That way that they would be willing to go down like different avenues to make sure that every option is explored. Because sometimes they’re just so quick like that, oh, like that man said, or like the anesthesiologist that wrote me off for a potential spinal leak. Oh, it’s just postpartum headaches. Instead of thinking, well, you did have an epidural. You did have something shoved in your like there could be a potential leak. But he was like, oh, no, the catheter was too small. There’s no way that you could have something like that. So basically just going down different avenues to make sure that they check off all the things on the list to make sure that I’m OK.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. I guess what I’m hearing you say again is they’ve got to be willing to acknowledge that their first guess or their first inclination may be wrong. And it’s not fair necessarily because doctors sometimes get painted with the concept that they think that they’re always right. But sometimes they go and they totally and completely show that they think that they’re always right.

Esther Hamblin: Yes.  

Rob Oliver: So, yeah, I definitely think that what you’re what you’re talking about there is makes. It’s logical and you know. That they’re looking to they’re looking for a solution to your problem, not just looking to, you know, pass along a diagnosis and wash their hands and be done with it.

Esther Hamblin: Yeah, because to me, I’m like not everybody is textbook because like the medical field is a science. It’s no it’s not exact science. It’s just a science. You’re constantly learning, like, for example, like treatments are constantly coming out with something new every day. So.

Rob Oliver: No, there’s a reason why they call it a medical practice is because that, you know, there are times when it is more art than it is science. So definitely. But listen, Esther, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate you taking the time. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. And I will say I respect your perspective on health care.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.

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