While your mom may be there to hold your hand at the doctor’s office well into adulthood (AND THERE’S NO SHAME IN THAT!), you are your own best advocate when you sit down to have a talk with your doc.
1. You know your body.
Only you know if your heart flutters after exercise or if you have digestion problems. Another person cannot possibly know every ache and pain, and those details may be important to a diagnosis. The tiniest detail, provided by you, may narrow down a diagnosis and prevent even bigger problems.
2. You need to be informed.
Once you sit down with your doctor, you need to understand what they are telling you. If they bring up a body part or treatment option you don’t understand, you must ask what it means. Don’t rely on others to translate. You need to hear it directly from your doctor.
3. You know your history.
If you are an established patient, your physician may have a fairly accurate history. However, you may not have told them an important part of your surgical history or family history unless something makes you recall it. You have to be the person that communicates (if able) because only you know the intricate details your life.
4. You have a choice.
Patient-centered care is all about choice, and you have the right to understand and approve any procedures. You cannot do this without being informed and active in your medical care. This is not to say don’t listen to your doctor, but if you don’t feel comfortable, there is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion.
5. You chose your lifestyle.
If you do not advocate for yourself, then you probably won’t make healthy decisions. Why get your blood pressure checked if you aren’t going to do anything if it is too high? Being your own advocate gets you involved in the process, and it forces you to take charge of your situation.
6. You need to focus on prevention or treatment.
Focusing on what to do next is nearly impossible if you aren’t your own advocate. If you aren’t involved in the medical process, you will not be able to adequately focus on prevention or treatment. This could be as minimal as neglecting to take a multivitamin or as crucial as taking too many beta-blockers, which could be deadly.
7. You need to take control.
Especially if you find a medical problem, life can seem hopeless if you aren’t your own advocate. You may feel completely out of control of your destiny. Being your own advocate empowers you to take control of the situation and focus on recovery.
8. You can only depend on yourself.
Sure, you may have a very dependable friend or family member, but you can only depend on yourself when it comes to your healthcare. Having someone with you is not a bad idea if you are comfortable and have the right sort of person, but don’t let that let you become complacent. Remember: This is about you, and you need to depend on yourself.
9. You know what you want.
One of the most important reasons to be your own advocate in your healthcare is that you are the only person who truly knows what you want. If you want to lower your cholesterol, listen to your doctor. If you want to lose weight, your doctor will have good resources. You have to choose what you want out of the appointment, and nobody else can do that for you.
10. You want your appointment to be complete.
Lastly, you want your appointment to completely alleviate any concerns. Don’t go home wishing you had asked your doctor an embarrassing question. Trust me, they’ve heard worse. Write down your questions, and have the courage to ask them. As your own advocate, you will feel satisfied when leaving the doctor’s office knowing that you covered everything.
To learn more about different healthcare topics that can help you take charge of your own healthcare, visit the Avidity Medical Design blog.