You’ve all heard the vow, in sickness and in health. As health professionals, we very often meet and interact with a significant other or close family member right alongside our patients or clients, especially if they are speechless.
In this sixth episode in the Speechless SLP series, we hear Dale Abraham’s bedside perspective of what it was like when Vanessa suddenly became ill and hospitalized, right through to challenges in care facilities. Hear how he advocated for her recovery, even when he was not allowed to be at her side.
Discussion & Reflection Questions
- If you interact with a partner or family member in a position of having to be the “voice” and make medical decisions for their loved one, how can you help them understand what is going on?
- How’s your delivery of “bad” news? Remember, it’s often not what is said, but how it is said. Think of ways you can improve your communication.
- If you have a patient/client frustrated with being unable to communicate, how can you reassure them and their family it is not their fault.
- Are you inclusive when you’re interacting with a patient/client’s family members? Are they made to feel like a part of the team?
- Imagine what it would be like if you had to stop work unexpectedly to make medical decisions and be a caregiver for someone else in your life, and how you might manage this situation.
“Be patient, be aware, be involved, and be respectful of all the health professionals. You have to ask questions in a very nice, very respectful, polite way, but at the same time, don’t just take their word on everything. Do your own research, and become knowledgeable in whatever is going on so that you can make informed decisions.”
– Dale Abraham
Dale and Vanessa met nearly 20 years ago in Palm Desert, CA.
Dale is a PGA Certified and TOP 100 Golf Digest Golf Instructor. Besides being an avid golfer, he enjoys fishing, going to the beach, and working out in his free time.
Having no prior medical experience, Dale quickly had to learn the basics of tube feeding and therapy appointments in addition to navigating the unfamiliar territory that comes with a critical illness.
Vanessa is a wife, mother and school based Speech-Language Pathologist.
She learned firsthand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of speech services after experiencing a sudden-onset critical illness that left her with limb and neck paralysis as well as a PEG tube and tracheotomy.
She was thrown into the rehabilitation world after being an independent, healthy and vibrant young mother. Through many swallow studies, voice therapy, OT and PT, she had to learn to eat, talk and move again.
Her goal now is to help people critically ill patients cope with the grief they experience after a critical illness through speaking up about the topic of Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS), depression and anxiety post ICU in addition to educating families and patients about the various rehab modalities that have been successful for her.
Contact Vanessa Abraham
“Human contact is huge. Holding their hand, being the sunshine for them, and being encouraging. That person can’t talk or ask questions, and they are terrified beyond belief. That somebody that comes in your room and smiles and holds you, or comforts you, or makes you feel human.”– Vanessa Abraham
“We don’t have to accept the fact that things have to stay the way they are. Advocate for our profession. Advocate for those we work with. Step forward to make a change, and believe we can make a change.”– Mattie Murrey-Tegels
Mattie Murrey Tegel, MA, CCC-SLP, L, CPC, CLSC
Medical Speech-Language Pathologist and Founder of Fresh SLP
Mattie Murrey-Tegels is the founder and SLP behind Fresh SLP and The Missing Link for SLPs Podcast. She’s been “in-the-trenches” as a medical SLP around the world for over 25 years and now an Assistant Professor for 3 years. She is thrilled to be adding this dream of a podcast because paying her experiences forward is something she is very passionate about. If you ask her patients and students, one thing they will remember is how much she loves her job! She may not look like it but she is a huge introvert and when she is not actively working as an SLP, she is almost always reading, writing (writing over 1,000,000 words a year), or listening to amazing Chicago Blues bands. She also loves being outdoors and definitely enjoys soaking up the sun at her home in Minnesota, where warm and sunny days can be limited. She’s ridden motorcycles for many years, raced sled dogs, hiked huge mountains yet she cherishes the quiet moments of climbing into a hammock to nap or timeless conversations with friends and family.
The Missing Link for SLPs podcast and Fresh SLP is her legacy, giving back to a career that has so richly rewarded her.
Thank you for listening to The Missing Link for SLPs podcast! If you enjoyed the show, I’d love you to subscribe, rate it and leave a short review. Also, please share an episode with a friend. Together we can raise awareness and help more SLPs find and connect those missing links to help them feel confident in their patient care every step of the way.
Not a substitute for a formal SLP education or medical advice for patients/caregivers.