A Long and Winding Road to Health IT

Joyce Lofstrom

I am a cancer survivor – 3x breast cancer including a mastectomy and 3x thyroid cancer including a right neck dissection.

I also have had Type 1 diabetes for 38 years (and added this tattoo in 2014).

Thus, I have been living with chronic diseases for more than half of my life (since age 25). This is not a complaint, but simply, a statement of fact.

As for health IT, all of my surgeries, with the last in 2011, did not include the benefit of health IT. The hospitals relied on paper more than not, although I found one of my surgeons via LinkedIn and another on the hospital website. Both doctors had an email address listed, which I then used to contact them.

I am shocked, quite frankly, how an insulin pump, which I wear, can be intimidating to physicians, specifically one anesthesiologist who simply told me to take it off before the surgery.

I did remove it and figured the surgical team would monitor my blood sugar during the surgery. I had a separate appointment with the anesthesia team a week before the surgery, where I detailed my medical history, as the interviewer took notes on paper.

Looking back, and considering any future surgical situations, I would not remove the pump. I was nervous about this surgery and didn’t really think through my action that morning. Suffice it to say, they did not monitor my blood sugar levels for this all-day surgery, resulting in a scary and life-threatening situation of blood sugar over 600 and a possible heart attack.

Follow-up tests two weeks after the surgery indicated the contrary – no heart attack.

Now, at different health systems, I use patient portals to access my records, email my physicians and refill prescriptions. All of my medical records appear on these sites.

#IHeartHIT because my health information is in one place with easy e-access for my physicians and me...to keep my care current and accurate.

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