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You Are Your Own Best Advocate

Posted Oct 07 2010 12:59pm
If you want to get the best treatment possible you need to be your own best advocate.  Throughout the years I have experienced way too many errors by doctors that have cost me in many ways (and not just including money).

It's so important that you speak up for yourself because no one else will.  Doctors are only human too and therefore they are bound to make mistakes.  We automatically think "oh, they're the doctor - they went to school for this and they know better than I do what's best for me".  Not true.  No one knows your body like you do.

Just a couple of examples of what has happened in my life.  Years ago my brother was sick with Mononucleosis (aka: Mono).   He was in college and lived on campus but when he got sick he came home until he was better.  At the time I was living at home and not soon after I started to feel sick myself and the symptoms were the same as my brother's.  So I went to the doctor and told her that I most likely had Mono (because my brother has it) - but she refused to test me for it because she didn't believe I had it.  Therefore she tested me for Strep Throat and other various illnesses.  I begged her to at least test for Mono too and she reluctantly agreed even though it annoyed her.  Well - after the results came back - what do you know - I get a call from my doctor telling me I was right - I did indeed have Mono.  Duh!!?  So not only did she cost me money on tests I know I didn't need to have done, she denied the obvious and if I had not been persistent in my wanting to get tested I would have wasted more money on the wrong medication and I would have suffered longer than I would have needed to.

Another example is when this same doctor who, for some reason, out of the blue - suggested that I was bipolar.  This is the same doctor who has been treating me for YEARS and knows I suffer from depression and anxiety, etc. and all of a sudden she thinks I'm bipolar?  Even though I knew deep down inside that I wasn't, I still listened to her and went to see a psychiatrist.  Of course when I scheduled my appointment the only doctor I could get in to see was the brand new just-out-of-med-school doctor which made me even more hesitant to trust anything he had to say to me.  At the appointment he printed off a list of questions which he then handed to me.  We proceeded to go over each question together.  I swear this was something he found off the Internet because I know you can find exact questions like this anywhere.

We then preceded to go through the questions (questions - I might add - that were so vague and which could be answered any number of ways depending upon how you interpreted it).  I'd also like to point out that BEFORE I even took the "test" he asked me what I was seeing him for - what I thought was wrong with me.  So I told him what my regular general practitioner doctor had said - that she thought I was bipolar and she wanted me to see someone for it.   HELLO!?!   Gee - can you guess what conclusion he came to after I answered that lame questions?  Yep - I'm bipolar!!!  We then talked about medications and he discussed the seriousness of some of the them -  because of this and before I took any of them I had to have my kidneys and such tested (before taking the meds and then after taking the meds to see how it affected my organs).... That did it - Enough of this crap!  I decided that I wanted a SECOND opinion.  I KNOW ME and I know that my antidepressants that I was on just weren't working anymore and that was the true issue.

Sure enough, I went to see the HEAD psychiatrist and he disagreed with the bipolar diagnosis.  He agreed that all I needed was a change in my meds and that's all.  Sure enough - he switched me to a different antidepressant and I started to feel better.

These are only two of the MANY instances where my gut instincts have been correct.  Sometimes I listen to it, other times I doubt myself.  Well - no more - I'm fed up with doctors treating me like another number instead of a person.  Granted, not all doctors are bad doctors and I know many mean well - but some either are too buy because they have too many clients, or they have been in the business for too long and they maybe aren't on top of the latest ideas... OR they're too new and don't have the experience.  You have to find a doctor who meets YOUR needs.  There are doctors like that out there - so DON'T settle.  You only have this one body - so put it in the hands of someone, you feel, listens to you and makes you feel comfortable.

Needless to say, I'm on the hunt for a new doctor myself! :)

Lately there have been too many errors - and yes - some are minor ones, but do I really want to wait until a MAJOR error happens?  Ahhhhh - that would be NO.

Nowadays with having so much information at our fingertips we can absolutely do our own research and then share what we've found with our doctors.  If they are a good doctor they will listen to your concerns and treat you with respect.  Don't forget either - YOU are the one PAYING them. 

The University of Minnesota published a terrific article entitled:  Why Take Charge?    Take a moment to read it - It just reinforces my own thoughts on our healthcare system and why we need to be our own best advocate.

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