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 On The Caregiver Beat

I just dropped off my dog, Morris, at the vet’s so they can put a scope down his throat and find out why he is having breathing issues. Any of you who know about my relationship with my constant companion will understand that this is a shaky moment for me, at best.  As I was driving away from the vet’s office, I kept reviewing in my mind: “Did I ask enough questions?  Did I tell them enough about his symptoms?  Did I let them know how much Morris means to us?” This is certainly a common occurrence for any human or animal caregiver.

While in the car, I was listening to a report on WLRN, a local radio station. Since October is National Breast Cancer month, they have been offering advice for people living with breast cancer and their loved ones all month long.  Today was an especially poignant report. Kelley Mitchell, a WLRN-Miami Herald reporter, was talking about her own breast cancer diagnosis on Christmas Eve, 2002, when she was a reporter for the local ABC affiliate.  This was well known to me as I have always really liked Kelley and appreciated her work. Kelley talked about her decision to go public and do reports on her cancer as she was going through treatment.  She said (and I paraphrase), It was easier for Kelley the Reporter to get the information I needed about my cancer than it was for Kelley the Patient. I know my reporting on my cancer helped a lot of people in the community, but it also helped me.  Bingo. Kelley to the rescue.

I think by becoming family caregiver/investigative reporters, we can obtain the best information for ourselves and our loved ones—as factually, directly and unemotionally as possible.  Put your reporter’s fedora on and get the information you need by using the reporters’ five W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why? Who should be involved in my loved one’s care at this very moment?  What is the truth about the situation and what are my options? Where can I get the best results? When are we supposed to see results, see the doctor, get the insurance approval?   And Why? (sprinkle this question liberally).

Now, if only there was a Pulitzer’s prize for being a family caregiver/investigative reporter.



Gary Barg

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