Taking Risks, and Sticking Up for Yourself in the Doctor’s Office!
You want to know what’s bold…sticking up for yourself! There are many instances when we don’t stick up for ourselves when it comes to our health, myself included, and it can have devastating consequences. I want to talk to you about 5 things you can do in order to be your own advocate, take risks, and have more confidence when going to the doctor!
Going to the doctor can be intimidating – especially when you haven’t felt well in so long and just want answers. Maybe you have been floating through life with no diagnosis and just know something isn’t right. How many times have you gone to the doctor and felt like they didn’t listen to you (especially us women!)? Or you felt as if you were being talked down to? Or even felt like they were not doing all they can to help you out? I want to help alleviate these feelings for you. You know who knows your body best…YOU! And you need to stick up for yourself in those tiny little rooms.
I recently had to assemble an entirely new medical team since I moved out to California and I put these tips I’m about to share with you to the test. I also wrote about the experience on my personal blog. A lot of what I learned and have embraced comes from the awesome book, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, which we have mentioned on Autoimmune Sisters a bunch! So when I set out to assemble my new team, one thing I knew for sure was if I didn’t get a good vibe while speaking and meeting with them, they weren’t for me…and THAT’S OKAY! Just because a doctor’s office lines you up with a certain doctor, if you don’t like them, say thanks and don’t schedule a follow up.
One way to start being your own advocate is by thinking of your doctor’s visit in a simpler way. Doctors provide you a service, and if you don’t like that service you don’t go back. Just like you wouldn’t go back to a restaurant that you didn’t like or a hair salon that jacked up your hair.
Now, before you blindly go leaving all your doctors because you know they are not the right fit, do a self check. Make sure you are doing everything on your end to not be a “lazy” patient (I’ve been there too, many times). And if you are doing all the right things, which I’m sure you are, start gaining a little courage and confidence in yourself by applying these 5 things. This will help with your autoimmune disease as a whole, and will help you speak up for yourself at the doctor’s office.
Don’t be afraid to try something new.
We have to be willing to take risks! And, in the grand scheme of things, what we are or were doing wasn’t helping out our autoimmune disease. So take the chance with something new. Try a new diet like AIP, or the Autoimmune Sisters’ 21 day plan. Or start a gratitude or meditation practice to encourage healing. Don’t let your health go by the wayside because you aren’t willing to make a change.
Do your research.
This is probably the most important in my opinion. Autoimmune disease is something we will have for the rest of our lives, so you might as well educate yourself about it. Know what the up and coming research and developments are in your disease community, know which tests should be done and what you should set as long term goals. I personally love going to my GI doc and talking about the latest research papers or new clinical trials that are happening!
Ask tons of questions.
The only way to learn and truly understand what your doctor is saying is to ask questions. If they want to include new medications, ask what the side effects or long term effects are. Ask them their opinion on certain diets or supplements that may help. They are professionals that are experts at these kinds of things. Also, asking questions can give you a hint as to whether your doctor is staying current in the field and embraces all the options that are out there.
Don’t be afraid to say no.
If you don’t agree with any course of your treatment, please don’t be afraid to say no until you can gather more information. At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for you and your body. Any respectful doctor will understand hesitation and will honor your opinion. So again, saying no is not a bad thing!
Prepare for your appointment.
Don’t just willy-nilly show up and expect everything to go great. Go to appointments prepared with questions and any other matters that are important to you. I tend to keep an ongoing list on my phone that I can just pull up at appointments. If something urgent comes up, call your doctor; but otherwise, jot down your thoughts and questions and bring them with you. I tend to write a lot of questions in regards to test results and asking what certain markers mean. Anything goes! I also encourage you to bring a friend or family member with you to listen to what your doctor has to say. That is another way you can be sure you won’t miss anything or even misinterpret something they may have said.
For me personally, it wasn’t until I started doing these 5 things that I got the answers I was looking for. I was misdiagnosed for 5 YEARS and if I had opened my mouth sooner, I’m sure I would have gotten the correct diagnosis much faster. I was young, but I knew how to listen to my body and frankly had to learn how to stick up for myself and for my health! Now, I have a good team on my side and we are all better prepared to conquer my autoimmune disease. I hope the same happens for all of you!