It was a Sunday afternoon and I had been feeling lousy. Suddenly, lousy turned to scary. I had a fever of 103º, nausea and agonizing muscle cramps. As people do, my husband and I debated whether a trip to the emergency room was necessary. We delayed, we tried to wait it out; we didn’t want to overreact.
At last, we rushed to Christus St. Vincent, where they took my condition very seriously indeed. I had a dangerous, runaway infection. Over the next eight days, I was in the hands of strangers. I was in a place where the language was unfamiliar. I was in a place where I didn’t know what to expect or what questions to ask. There were tests, some of them frightening, like the one with the foot-long needle penetrating my lung. Doctors popped in, offering either too much or too little information. The hospital computer system was an old jalopy that stalled at every intersection.
Ultimately, the care was good and the nursing staff kind and attentive, but the experience was awful for both me and my husband, a weeklong bout of confusion and anxiety.
Back at home, dealing with an extended recovery, I tried to figure out how to avoid that ever happening again. Here’s what I came up with: corral my friends and friends of friends and build a group that can share what they have experienced in the local health system. Together we could create a self-perpetuating guidebook, a way to make the best of what Santa Fe and northern New Mexico has to offer. I did just that and called it GrayWatch.
GrayWatch is a gathering together of friends and acquaintances, based in northern New Mexico, who find themselves at sea. How do you navigate your way through all this to reach rational healthcare decisions? When you are in trouble, what do you have to do to get the best possible outcome? On the GrayWatch website, we have compiled a ton of information and links to reliable sources. We have advice on how to choose a doctor. We expand our health geography to include providers in Albuquerque and beyond.
We are a network designed to share knowledge and experience. We look to find wisdom in our crowd. Together, we can frame the right questions and track down the answers. We can carry each other through difficult times. Just like calling a friend for advice, you can tap into the GrayWatch community any time you need it.
You can visit the website at www.graywatch.org. There is an option to join that allows you a deeper dive into the data. Send any queries to me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Santa Fe resident Janet Bailey operates a small retail chain, Barbara’s Bookstores. She is on the volunteer Action Team at the new Early College Opportunities High School and on the board of the Jambo Kids Foundation. She founded GrayWatch four years ago. 505.988.4881