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Get a Second Opinion, And Maybe More!

Margery Pabst Steinmetz - October 01, 2018 10:47 AM

As we all know, a caregiver truth is most of us will be caregivers at least once in our lifetime and for many of us, more than once.  This summer was my fourth experience, different from the other three but laced with those “truths” typical of each caregiving experience.  One essential truth having particular prominence during this fourth experience was the advice, “Always get a second opinion.”  This summer, my learning was that even the second experience is not always foolproof.  My husband, Chuck, came home after golf one April afternoon complaining of fatigue and sweating.  Soon he was prone on our bed and feeling faint with attendant chest pains.  After three days in the hospital, cardiologists pronounced him “good to go.”

But my intuition told me differently.  After a couple more episodes and a couple more checks with different doctors and cardiologists, I decided my concerns were misplaced.  The doctors, after more testing, found nothing.  So off we went to my brother’s retirement party in another state where a new level heart event took place.  After just a half hour in the emergency room, we had an ominous diagnosis—ventricular tachycardia, a heart arrhythmia that can easily prove fatal.  This arrhythmia is difficult to detect and has to be present and happening during a doctor’s examination. Nothing like this diagnosis was observed or noted for over a month prior to our leaving for my brother’s!  I learned, through a great deal of painful anxiety, that sometimes a second opinion does not provide the complete picture.

I also learned that trusting my caregiver intuition is critically important.  I knew that but had to learn it again.  We caregivers know our loved ones best, and often we must voice our intuition to professionals.

For Chuck and me, the situation ended well and he is now my “bionic man,” the proud owner of a combination pacemaker/defribulator.  He is fixed but it might not have turned out so well.  In the end, we were blessed with capable and highly skilled medical care.

I hope my story is a cautionary tale.  Intuition is your caregiver wild card.  Use it!

Margery Pabst Steinmetz is an author and the founder of, a website with many free caregiving resources.  Margery is eCarediary’s caregiving expert and the host of “Caregivers Speak,” a radio program about and for caregivers.

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