Friday, February 5, 2010

Trouble-Maker or Advocate?

At a recent doctor's appointment, I shared with my MD that I had looked up a medication on the internet. His reply was, "Oh, you're one of those who researches information on the internet. I hate when patients do that." He was saying it in a joking way, but I knew there was some truth behind what he was saying. Doctors don't want you to me informed, at least most of them would like you to come and not say a word. I believe they want you to nod yes and go along with whatever they say and be totally compliant. I figured after I left the treatment room, my doctor would put a big red mark in my chart stating, "Trouble-making patient." I learned a long time ago to speak up for myself, which means, to ask questions, know my choices and options and to do my own research. Whether it is concerning a new medication that I'd like to know the side-effects of, the pros and cons of a particular test, or the long-term effects of treatment, I want to be informed.

I asked my doctor if he would prefer if I just nodded my head yes and did everything he suggested without asking questions. He smiled and said, "no." I'm not sure if this was an honest answer.

So how do you become an advocate for yourself without being labeled a trouble-maker? It's a thin line. I believe if you know what you are talking about and you've done your research, you will gain your MD's respect. Responding with statements such as, "from what I understand, this medication..." Or, "Is there any reason why I'm not able to take the stress test on a treadmill versus a medication-induced stress test?" Keeping calm when speaking with your MD and not coming from a place of anger is also recommened. I suggest having your questions ready before hand, so you are prepared when you walk into your appointment. Sometimes it's difficult to do this, so I believe it is ok to say, "I'd really like to think about this." I am by no means suggesting that you not follow your doctor's recommendations, but what I am suggesting, is to take part in your health care decisions. To know your options and what choices you have. This way, you feel you have some power in what is taking place with your care and less like a victim.

As far as the red mark in my chart....well, I might have to think of that more as a mark of courage than as a negative branding! The more we speak up for ourselves, the more we can have control and a voice in our health wellness.
Be well in body, mind & spirit!

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