Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What to do After a Chronic Illness Diagnosis - some tips to staying afloat

So, you're sitting in your doctor's office after weeks, maybe months of not feeling great and you're told you have lupus, or kidney disease, or diabetes, fibroneuralgia or any number of other conditions and you sit stunned and speechless. Your doctor might ask, if you are lucky, do you have any questions?  But, you draw a blank and sit staring at the ID bag on his or her white coat.  You happen to catch a few words such as specialist, bloodwork, medication, tests when a rush of cold air fills the room and you come to for a brief moment. You see the white coat stand and then turn and leave the room. As you slowly come out of the mental fog, questions and concerns pop into your head,  Can I still work? Will I recover? What about my sex life? Will I need surgery? But your doctor has gone onto the next patient. You get dressed, walk the hall to the check-out desk, pay your co-pay, if you have insurance, make a follow-up appointment and then the receptionist hands you the number for a specialist, and you leave not sure what just happened.
Here's what you do next:

Tip 1: Find the nearest deli and order your favorite piece of pie!
Tip 2: Don't panic even though you find it difficult not to. Breathe and stay focused.
Tip 3: Call a friend
Tip 4: Call your doctor's office and make a follow-up appointment to discuss what all this means and ask any questions you didn't get to ask during the initial visit.
Tip 5: Find a support group or organization that has information about the illness
Tip 6: Remember, you are most likely going to experience a new kind of normal
Tip 7: You are not your illness
Tip 8: You can still have a life even if it has limitations
Tip 9: CALL ME! 310-922-3957

Depending on the diagnosis you receive, you might need to see specialists, undergo more testing, hospitalizations, change in diet, mood swings, sleep changes, etc. Knowledge is important so is attitude. Watch what messages you feed your brain. If you have a tendency to be a pessimist, chances are you will remain one, but practice seeing the glass as half full; it will save you!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who's Looking Out for You Baby?

Have you ever had the experience where you felt like YOU had to come up with the answers to your health condition? Where you had to problem-solve and do all the research because, basically, your doctor just handed you a prescription and said, "see you in 3 months?" I don't know about you, but I find that totally frustrating. My doctor said to me once "stay off the internet." That is usually where I do all my investigating. I learned recently that I had a stomach hernia.  But that was all I was told. Non of my doctors said anything more. They didn't tell me how to care for it, what to do and what not to do. Whether or not it would grow or what symptoms to look for if it were to be getting worse. Ironically, a week or so after that diagnosis, someone from Medicare called me and asked if I needed any health information. So, I asked them about the hernia. They sent me a printout with interesting information about things I should and should not do such as eating small meals, sleeping with my head elevated and drinking lots of water. Information is out there and we don't always get it from our healthcare team. So, what I'm saying is, don't always take what you are not given and walk away. Either tell your doctor you are not leaving until you get the information you need and want or look to other sources to find it. Though make sure where you are getting it is reliable. I figure the Medicare doctor knew what she was talking about and I could trust that information.

Be an advocate for yourself! Speak up, as my mother used to say. Know your choices and don't settle for less!

In health and peace,