Most healthcare providers are away over the festive season, so how do you cope during this time? Clinical patient navigator, Zamokuhle Mguli, tells you how.
Ke Dezemba Boss!
Own your festive season by empowering yourself. This is your cancer journey – own it and be in charge! The festive season is here – the time when the pace of the medical sector slows down. Most are preparing for year-end closure and the majority of patients’ medical aid benefits are exhausted, as is everyone!
The saying ‘Ke Dezemba Boss’ means anything goes in December. Though as a breast cancer patient that is not entirely true; you can celebrate as you want but medication compliance and self-care still needs to be top priority.
What you need to have
You need to ensure you have enough stock of your medication until your next appointment. Your monthly follow-ups might not be as usual, like every four weeks. Also, remember the dates of your next doctors’ appointments.
Be sure to take down the emergency contact numbers for the healthcare providers standing in for your treating doctors. Know who to call and where to find them.
If you find yourself in a crisis, go to your nearest emergency room to seek medical help. Do not wait for your symptoms to worsen before you go to casualty. Hospitals are open every day.
Remember to let your doctors know that you are wanting to travel and they will advise you. This will help with the planning of your holiday and will make your trip more pleasant and less stressful.
Know where the closest medical facility is at your holiday destination, in case you are in an emergency situation.
Take note of the medication that needs special precautions regarding storage, e.g. medication that needs to be kept in cold temperatures or away from cold temperatures, and make provision. Failure to follow these instructions will make medication invalid.
Dos and don’ts
Avoid mixing alcohol with medication. This will cause undesired reactions from the interaction of alcohol and medication.
Avoid decanting medication into other medication containers. This can cause confusion if someone has to give you your medication.
Keep all medication out of reach of children. During the festive season, visits from family are frequent and little children are running around the house. Store your medication in a safe place.
Know the side effects of the medication you’re taking and what to expect. Be aware of the danger signs, like fever, and have a plan on what to do if faced with such circumstances.
Most importantly: compliance! Unfortunately sickness does not take a holiday. It is always around and you need to manage it by taking medication as prescribed.
If you have a caregiver
Know the medication doses you are supposed to take and let your caregiver know where the medication is kept.
Let your caregiver know what medication you need to take so he/she can be able to assist and encourage you with compliance during the festive season.
Tell your caregiver about the side effects of your medication and explain how to deal with them and where to go if the side effects worsen.
MEET OUR EXPERT – Zamokuhle Mguli
Zamokuhle Mguli is a clinical patient navigator at the Netcare Breast Care Centre of Excellence. She has a diploma in Nursing, a certificate in Palliative Care, Bcur Education and Admin. She has worked at Helen Joseph Hospital and Hospice.