Posted By janice on July 20, 2011
When I got sick at my own birthday party, I knew something was wrong. I don’t drink so I couldn’t simply blame alcohol, and it was the third time it had happened.
The incidents prompted an appointment with a GI doctor. That was in May. Now two months later and still feeling lousy, I found myself on Monday sitting across from a different doctor.
The new doctor asked me why I switched doctors, and I simply replied he kept having me wait two weeks for this, two weeks for that, and I was still a miserable cow with random nausea, pain in my side and other equally annoying symptoms. It was to the point where I didn’t want to go to dinner or the movies with friends because I worried about becoming sick since it seemed to happen without warning. The answer to my new doctor’s question is really much simpler.
Speak up for yourself
With my previous doctor, I felt like I wasn’t being listened to, and I was becoming more frustrated. Glenn Close from her Fatal Attraction role flashed in my head, and I wanted to say, “I will not be ignored.” That’s never a good sign for me that a relationship is going well.
This experience reminds me how you have to become your own medical advocate. You have to stand up and speak up for yourself. No one else is going to do it for you.
I am fortunate that I live and work in Houston, home to the country’s largest medical center, and I have good health insurance, something too many people do not have. Some of my friends and family live in areas with limited access to doctors.
With the Internet, there really isn’t any reason patients these days should remain uninformed. It can help us become better patients. You can research the disease/diagnosis, the doctors, medicine, treatments, the medical facility and the latest information.
Of course, I researched my symptoms on the Internet, which can scare the hell of out of you if you’re not careful. Most doctors are used to patients coming to them with information they’ve pulled off the Internet. When I had a heel spur a couple of years ago, my podiatrist said, “Patients already know what they have. They just want me to confirm it.”
Take action and trust your instincts
I believe in changing course when something isn’t working, no matter what it is. It’s like the saying goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
Several years ago, an allergist told me I needed to wear gloves and a mask with my organizing clients. I wasn’t into channeling Darth Vader and more importantly NOT making my clients feel worse than they already do by walking into someone’s office in a hazmat suit. (Note: I’m not talking about hoarding situations a la Hoarders. That’s totally different.) Instead I changed allergists and opted for allergy shots.
Do you know what you need to take care of yourself, especially when your health is involved?