Your Health. Your Priority.

When I was finishing chemotherapy a few months ago, I witnessed something very troubling.  There was a young lady in the infusion center (place where you receive chemo) who was having a not so good day.  She was arguing with a not so helpful nurse.  See the young lady was thoroughly confused about why she was in the infusion center. 

The patient thought she was there to receive chemo.  The infusion center nurse was trying to explain to her that the doctor’s orders were not chemo.  Apparently, the patient did not like the nurse’s tone as the nurse was trying to explain chemo to her.  So she went in on the nurse exclaiming how she’s not an idiot, you can’t talk to me any ‘ole kind of way, and I really don’t know why I’m here today. I thought it was for chemo because that’s what I always get when I’m here. I don’t know, my doctor just told me to come down here so I’m here.

It got loud. Both parties were angry and frustrated.  I couldn’t believe this craziness that was transpiring in front of me.  Well, actually I could.  I’ve been there.  I’ve been the completely confused patient before.  I’ve been frustrated because I didn’t understand.

Before I found my way to UAMS, I was angry because a nurse or staff person was unpleasant or not helpful.  I was frustrated at a doctor who somewhat blew me off as being overly anxious. I’ve wanted to give those people a piece of my mind. I was thoroughly upset with how I was treated.  But I think I was more so disappointed in the fact that I had no idea what was going on with me medically. I decided that I’d never be in that situation again.  I had to be proactive about my health.

I’ve had more doctors’ visits in the past year than I’ve had over the span of my life.  Here’s what I do to prepare for and during a doctor’s visit –

Recruit someone to go along with me. Whoever it is, have him/her play the role of recording secretary.  Ask him/her to write down everything discussed while your doctor is in the exam room.

Ask for additional information.  There are usually free pamphlets that your doctor can provide.  My doctor is always helpful in printing info sheets for the various drugs that are being used during my treatments. 

Ask questions.  Usually, I have one or two questions ready before I even see my doctor. Ask away.  Let your doctor see that you want to be an active participant during the course of your care.

Do your research.  Refer to books, medical journals, or online sites to become more knowledgeable about various procedures, treatments, and drugs.

Be pleasant. Your attitude can make a big difference in the way you feel, how you interpret things, and often how others will treat you. Even when it’s difficult, remain positive and respectful when interacting with your care providers.

Be on time. Time is a precious commodity that no person can get back.  Trust, you are not as important as you think you may be…there are other patients who need care too. Be timely for all lab appointments, doctor’s visits, and/or scheduled treatments.

Follow your doctor’s orders.  I believe something like 99.8 percent (some random non-scientific statistic I made up) of doctors really are looking out for the best interest of their patients. So, if your doctor asks you to stay in the bed and get some rest. Do so.  If your doctor wants you to lose a few pounds. What are you waiting for?

Make your health a priority.  Always be proactive when receiving medical care.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Confide in a close friend or family member when you feel nervous or unsure about what’s happening with you health wise.

Have you had an unpleasant doctor or hospital visit?  How did it affect you?

Peace and Love

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