Now that you’ve found a doctor you can work with – good. You’ve always been your own, best, healthcare advocate and you’re well prepared for your upcoming visit. Naturally, your list of concerns, symptoms, and treatments you’ve tried has been completed. And now finally, your office visit has commenced. Your doctor gives you a working diagnosis – one your health issue might possibly be. The medical term describing your diagnosis may be a very long one that you’re unfamiliar with. Since you’re so smart, you ask her to write down the medical term, the medical tests and prescriptions she may order. Great so far.
At home you’ll check out Ms. Google and do your research. But, and this is a very big but, stay away from the stories others have written on the net. They only tend to scare you and make you crazy. Your course of treatment and your reactions to treatment may be totally different than the next persons. Every patient is unique. Consequently, it makes no sense to focus on what has happened to others. They’re not you. You’re you! It’s best to stick to what pertains directly to you and your illness. I know it’s hard to stay away from some of the more “amazing” stories you’ve heard or read. We all get sucked into the drama sometimes. But, take a breath, a break, stretch, get out your meditation beads and please get off the internet!
Next you’ll probably want to check back with your doctor after you’ve become more knowledgeable about your health issue. Generally, an office visit – face to face – is best. If that doesn’t work for you or seems unnecessary, an email or patient portal connection may be enough.
Most recently, I talked with a friend who had an orthopedic problem – more of an annoying problem than an emergency. Her doctor suggested surgery to correct the problem. By the time she left the doctor’s office her surgery had already been scheduled! I understand that the doctor was offering her what he believed was the optimum treatment for her problem, but since it was not an emergency, there seemed to be no reason to rush into surgery. Although surgery is a valid option for many patients, it’s not the only option available. And surgery, as we all know, has risks even under the best circumstances. As patients we can then become our own, best healthcare advocates by pausing and observing what is happening to our bodies over time. Can we take some time to wait, to watch and see how we’re doing? Is our problem improving, remaining the same or progressing? Additionally, we can seek a second opinion and reassess our personal goals – what we’re willing to do to get the results we’re after. There truly is no reason to rush into a procedure unless it’s a true emergency, you’re having a lot of pain, you’ve got an infection or fracture. Those need to be addressed immediately. Short of the above, you have the opportunity and the power to take control of how much, when and what you choose to do about your health. It’s fine to ask your physician if he/she considers your problem an emergency. That’s a very smart question to put out there. Your physician’s answer will guide you to your next step.
I’m often called the “why wait woman.” When it comes to medicine though, it’s beneficial to consider waiting, watching, getting a second opinion, assessing your personal goals and doing some research as long as your healthcare issue is not an emergency. And really, what’s the rush? #whywaitThursday #trustyourdoctorbutnotthatmuch #healthcareadvocate