It’s a patient’s perspective on healthcare from Jaquelyn LaVictoire on this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. This is part of the patient’s perspective interview Marathon. It is 24 in the series. Jaquelyn brings a unique perspective both as a patient and as a family member. She joined me from Minnesota.
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Here is the transcript of my interview with Jaquelyn LaVictoire as she shared a patient’s perspective on healthcare:
Rob Oliver: Thank you, and welcome to another episode of Perspectives on Healthcare. This is a continuation of the patient’s perspective. Marathon. This is number 24 in the marathon, and I got my numbers mixed up a little bit before, but this is actually number 24. It is with Jaquelyn LaVictoire. She is from out in Minnesota. She brings a unique perspective as a patient herself, as well as her husband and child. So let’s get right to it. Here is my interview with Jaquelyn LaVictoire.
Rob Oliver Welcome. And what is your name?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: My name is Jaquelyn LaVictoire.
Rob Oliver All right, Jaquelyn , where are you from?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: I am in Minnesota.
Rob Oliver: Okay. All you had to say was Minnesota.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: It’ll come out.
Rob Oliver: You can’t help it, which is all well and good, and I won’t hold that against you. As a matter of fact, right now, my wife is in Minnesota.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Yeah.
Rob Oliver: Anyway, she’s out there helping my nephew lives out there, and my wife and my daughter are out helping build closet stuff for them.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: There you go.
Rob Oliver: My daughter is a professional Ikea assembler.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Oh, there. Yeah, no, we finally have the first nice days here in a long, long time. So I’m glad she’s here at that time.
Rob Oliver: All right. So, Jaquelyn, can you please tell me about yourself and your background with health care?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Yeah, well, I actually started my company. It’s a virtual assistant company. Because of healthcare issues, I personally suffer from hemiplegic migraines, which are like mini strokes, which they come on really fast and unexpectedly. So I couldn’t really keep a job very well that way and then had little ones and decided to just keep it going. My husband is legally blind. He has retinitis pigmentosa, so we have that. And he was in an awful car accident years ago, about seven years ago now. And he had a TVI, which left him with permanent memory loss and just a lot of things along those lines.
Rob Oliver: Yeah. So talk to me a little bit about that, because it sounds like you’re both going through issues. Do you find yourself, I’m assuming, in the role of being a self advocate? Do you find that you spent time as an advocate for your husband as well?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: I think I advocate for him better than I advocate for myself. Like, I can fight for my family, but when it comes to my stuff, I’m like, okay, whatever you say. I actually was going to so many neurologists. I lived in Denver for a while and went to Minneapolis for them, and it ended up that the cause of my headaches is triggered by gluten, which I went I was getting shots and taking so much medicine, and nobody found that out until I just figured it out kind of on my own by reading an article and giving it a shot. But for him, I can fight all day long. The kids.
Rob Oliver: Yeah. Okay. So have you met any healthcare heroes during your time?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: My daughter actually has the same eye disease as my husband, and we didn’t know that until a couple of years ago. But her eyes are terrible. Really bad vision. And because of the curvature of her eyes, she couldn’t wear regular glasses or contacts. And we’d been everywhere and nobody could do anything. And then Dr. Trevor Faso at Pine Cone Vision, just like, he refused to give up on her. He just kept having her come back in. Well, that didn’t work. And we’re like, okay, then we just wait. But he’s like, no, come back in a couple of weeks. I’m going to talk to the medical group I work with, and we’ll see what we can do. And he actually had this special customer contacts made for her. And we have a video of her seeing for the first time, and it still makes me tear up because she goes outside and she’s just like this little thing. I think she was only eight or nine at the time, and she’s just, like, twirling around. She’s like, oh, my gosh, the leaves. She’d never seen the detail of a tree. She could see the shape, but never had seen the tree. Can I go for a bike ride? I’m going to go around the block. But she just loves him. Like, we still see him today, and he’s just wonderful for us.
Rob Oliver: Excellent. I’m glad that we can give a shout out for him. I want to go back to something you said earlier, and you said your husband was legally blind and that he was in a car accident. Was he driving or was he a passenger?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: He was driving. Retinitis pigmentosa. It is an eye disease that slowly progress. And so he wasn’t born blind, but it starts to come in on the size of his eyes, and so his vision continually got worse. Now he does not drive. I’m the only driver in the home. Because he’s now declared legally blind because of his field of vision.
Rob Oliver: He’s lost peripheral vision. Is that right?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Yeah.
Rob Oliver: Okay. Yeah. I had to ask you. I was listening. Yeah, I’m not sure. We got to find out. Okay. What does quality health care mean to you?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Well, first of all, beyond effect. I feel like it should be free in our country for sure. I think that we’re just dismissed so often when we go to the doctor, I think that being heard and just actually, when you’re there, I feel so dismissed so often when we go that it’s like I just think people need to listen to the patient and say, we’re here because there’s a reason for it. It’s not just because we’re showing up for our regular physical, which might be the case, but we set this up for a reason.
Rob Oliver: Okay, so when you’re talking about I’m going to read between the lines here and you can tell me where if I’m understanding properly. When you’re talking about health care being free, you’re talking about it being accessible to everyone at the same level.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Yes.
Rob Oliver: And I’ll just be honest about this. One of the first people I talked to when I was thinking about doing this podcast was basically saying we need to talk to an insurance person to find out why they have so much power in what goes on. Because when you go to see a medical professional and it’s time to write a treatment plan, the first question is, what kind of insurance do you have? And so in that way, your insurance company is determining your plan of treatment more than your medical professional is. What’s your reaction to that?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: That’s one of the things I take big issue too, because we live in rural Minnesota, and as the only driver, the closest doctor in our network is 30 minutes away. So by the time I drive and go to this appointment, it’s 2 hours out of every day. And one, I feel like I should be able to go to whoever is nearby because it’s convenient to me. It shouldn’t be that big of an issue. And two, when it comes to the specialists and things for my daughter’s eyes and my husband’s eyes and my headaches and all of it, yeah, I don’t think that I should receive a different health care plan than any other person.
Rob Oliver: Okay. And when you’re saying that you’ve got to travel to get to your doctor’s appointment, is that because your insurance doesn’t work with a local person or because there is just isn’t a local person?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: We had a local clinic, but that closed. But for dentistry and stuff, there’s some clinics right here we can’t go to. So mostly because our insurance doesn’t cover it.
Rob Oliver: Okay, it’s interesting to hear you say that because here in Pittsburgh, our city is literally divided in half by insurance. Okay. We have two competing health systems. One is from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and they have developed their own health insurance plan. And for the most part, that’s all that they take at their hospital. So if you want to go to a UPMC facility, you have to have UPMC insurance. And then there is the other network. UPMC is not going to pay for you to go there. So literally, depending on what health insurance you have, half of the city’s healthcare options are not available to you. It’s kind of a little bit about what you’re talking about, where you have somebody that’s close and somebody that you might like, but even though they’re close and you like them, you can’t go see them because it’s just.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: And God forbid your doctor switches networks, then that’s a whole other issue. So.
Rob Oliver: True. What do you wish your medical providers understood about you?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: I think it goes back to saying, if I’m at the appointment, it’s because I need to be there’s so many times that as the only driver and the only worker in the house, it’s a big deal. I wait a long time, a lot of times to go to the doctor because I feel like I can get better on my own or something like that. I’m there because I need to be. I don’t want to come back after the lab results come through. I want to be heard and taken care of when I’m there.
Rob Oliver: Okay. Do you utilize the telehealth options or the virtual I’m just being located kind of in a more rural community that I’m guessing would give you options, more treatment options.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Yeah.
Rob Oliver: Is that something that you use and what’s your experience been like with that?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: I use telehealth every time I can. That’s like, my favorite thing to come out of COVID, I think, is being able to do virtual appointments. I do feel that it’s very dismissive. I don’t think that you can portray how you’re really feeling virtually as far as, like, showing somebody a rash or thing. Like, I just don’t think it’s conveyed as well online.
Rob Oliver: So it’s very two dimensional. It’s not three dimensional. Is that an accurate description?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Yeah, definitely.
Rob Oliver: Okay. I agree with you from this perspective that it’s better than nothing, but it’s not the same as being in person. Listen, I’m a keynote speaker, okay? And so I do virtual presentations. And the fact is just that simple. A virtual presentation, it’s good, but it’s just not the same as being in person. Right. So anyway.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Virtually, you can just turn your camera off. You can’t just zone out when you’re there.
Rob Oliver: Exactly. Got it. Okay. So what is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: I think when you get a lab done and they go to the lab, if it doesn’t show up, follow up.
Rob Oliver: Okay, tell me more about that.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: I feel like every time I go to the doctor and there’s something wrong with me, they’re like, well, let’s go to the lab and do your blood in your urine analysis, and then we’ll get back to you with the results. And then they’ll come through and they’ll say, oh, everything’s fine. You’re fine. Everything came through normal. And that’s all I hear. If I don’t follow up and say, hey, I’m not fine, I still don’t feel well. It didn’t show up, but there’s still not something right here. I don’t think they do that unless you push that.
Rob Oliver: Okay. Yeah. All right. So I don’t know how many interviews in we are now, but it’s interesting because I had someone on a little bit earlier who said a very similar thing in which you’re going in because you have an issue, and they prescribe lab work, and you’re looking for the lab work to answer the issue that you have. They’re looking for the lab work to show something. And so when the lab work doesn’t show anything, they feel like their questions answered. Your lab work is normal, as opposed to you saying, my question is not answered because I still don’t feel good and I’m still not where I want to be. Does that resonate with you?
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean. Yeah. And also the ranges, because of my headaches and stuff, I’ve had graphs of all of my medical stuff that I’ve personally done. And I know when something is on the high side of normal that that’s not normal for me. I’m usually way low. So this could actually be something that’s causing me to not feel well. And I’ve called them on that before, but you know.
Rob Oliver: And I don’t mean to make this all about me, but I completely understand where you’re coming from. So I’ve got a spinal cord injury. I’m a quadriplegic, and I have low blood pressure. And I mean, like, really low blood pressure, like 75 over 50 kind of blood pressure. And I go to the doctor and they take my blood pressure, and before they do it, I say to them, okay, I’m going to tell you, I explained to them what my diagnosis is, why it’s going to happen, and I say, my blood pressure is going to be low. And then when they take it and it’s low, they’re worried. And I’ve had the person come back a couple of different times. And then there’s sometimes when my blood pressure is in the normal range, and what that means is actually that I’m stressed and I’m in some form of pain. And they’re like, oh, your blood pressure looks good. And it’s like, oh, no, actually it doesn’t look good. It’s bad.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Exactly. I’ll trade with you. I just had surgery on Friday, actually a week ago today, and they almost didn’t perform it because my blood pressure was high. And like I told you guys, I hate needles and procedures. It’s normal. I had actually taken my blood pressure myself for two weeks before, just to say, like, okay, it’s been good, guys. Right? Okay.
Rob Oliver: That’s so funny. So, listen, Jaquelyn , I appreciate you being here. I appreciate your willingness to share. I appreciate your support in all of this, and I respect your perspective on health care.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Thank you. I appreciate it a lot.
Rob Oliver: Absolutely. You have a good rest of your day.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: You too. Good luck.
Rob Oliver: Thanks. Bye.
Jaquelyn LaVictoire: Bye. Bye.
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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.