[Susan M. Belkin, CPA, BS, and Ronald Belkin know what it's like to be a chronic patient and caregiver.
Married for 24 years, Susan
is the caregiver and Ron the patient.
...Susan is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the National Kidney Foundation's (NKF) Patient and Family Council.She is also the controller and chief financial officer (CFO) for Doctor's Care Health Services, Port St. Lucie, FL, where she has full fiscal responsibility for a five-location, multi-specialty medical practice.Previous to that, she was controller for the Palm Beach County ARC, Riviera Beach, FL, after finishing a two-year stint as controller and CFO of Freight Solutions, Inc., Stuart, FL. From 1991 to 1996, she was controller at national headquarters of the NKF in New York.
, what thoughts crossed your mind when Ron's life-threatening illness began?How did you cope with his
coma?How did you deal with your own fear?Susan
: It was like waking from a bad dream and then realizing that it wasn't a dream.I was scared and not ready to be alone at 45 years of age.I had a daughter graduating from high school as valedictorian and an 11-year old.In addition, I care for my 88-year old dad.
Incite: What are some of the specific problems, you face, Susan
, as the caregiver for a loved one?Susan
: Physically dealing with the cartons (30 pounds each) of the solutions needed for PD is challenging.
: I've learned the renal diet and modified recipes and menus to accommodate it.I've learned to make up reasons why we need to leave a party earlier than normal.
: The diet is easier with PD than it was with HD.
: Traditional sex is not an option.We have adapted different methods of manipulation to deal with this aspect of it.
I think my illness has had a devastating effect on Susan
, quite possible more than me.I figure that, considering everything I have been through, I am on borrowed time.It has created a need for Susan
to be more aware of certain things she
has always taken for granted, like paying the bills and handling some household problems.She
adapted quickly, however, when I was hospitalized.Sexually, I am impaired due to a combination of the diabetes and circulation and suffer from erectile dysfunction.We have two beautiful children and really weren't planning to have more.We find different ways to attain sexual pleasure."Understand Your Illness"Incite: Is there anything you care to share with the ESRD population and those who care for these patients regarding how you resolved, or at least learned to live with, the problems associated with a chronically ill patient?Susan
: It takes the cooperation and patience of the entire family unit to deal effectively with this illness.One caretaker is not enough since he/she will burn out.Sharing the responsibility is the only long-term solution.
: Don't settle for mediocrity.Life is too short.