February 3rd, 2014
How do you react to difficult, life-changing news? My usual first reaction, after a few moments of incomprehension and acceptance that I really did hear that right, is to research the heck out of whatever caused the change. That was definitely my reaction about a year ago when my son was diagnosed with a chronic illness that I had barely heard of at the time. Thankfully, we were at Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital and the staff there was well-versed in dealing with bewildered parents and shell-shocked patients.
The team of doctors came in with printed information that my son could understand so he could be involved in his diagnosis and treatment from the beginning. They gave us the website for the organization dealing with his disease. That was all well and good, but I wanted more. Helicopter-Parent-Momma-Bear that I am, I was determined that I would be so familiar with his disease that by the time we left the hospital I would be able to control the cause(s) to the utmost of my ability. I was staying at the hospital with him and couldn’t check out books, but I had access to the internet! But how do you know which sites are “real” and not just sensationalized hype that will scare the daylights out of you and give bad or even incorrect information? Start with the library of course!
I remembered CCPL has some really great online resources for researching health, so that’s where I went. Each database had information about the disease and I was able to arm myself with questions for the doctors, questions that usually led to more research. As the doctors progressed from completing the diagnosis to a treatment plan, we received information on the available treatment options. The pamphlet for the most popular medication had a warning that there had been cases reported of “unusual cancers” occurring in teenagers using the drug. WHAT?! While alarmed, I didn’t want to dismiss it out of hand, so I went back to research some more!
From CCPL’s site, I search the MedLinePlus database for two words – the disease name and the drug brand name – and immediately found an article from the FDA. Bingo! From this article, I was able do additional research and determine that my son wasn’t at risk. Whew!
Fast-forward a year and now my son is doing great. Through research and conversations with his doctors, we’ve been able to make well-informed decisions. My son has participated every step of the way since he will be dealing with this for the rest of his life and I’m confident that we set a good example by dealing with his disease with a problem-solving approach. Thank goodness for CCPL providing access to the reliable information I needed!
Next time life-changing news comes your way, remember the library is here to help. Stop by, call, email or get on our site to see the many ways the library can help with the curve-balls life throws at us.
Photo credit: “Hospital” by Chelsea Stirlen