Monday, September 26, 2011

Assert Yourself!

I don't consider myself a very assertive person.  For most of my life, I have let people walk all over me.  Family members, friends, co-workers, doctors... heck, even my husband.  

It's HARD to stand up for yourself....Especially when you aren't confident with what you have to say.

I remember one doctor visit a few years ago, when I was talking about my hydrocephalus and possible shunt surgery.  I'll put it bluntly...The Dr. was a jerk.  She had wall around her a mile high and didn't seem to care one bit about my pain and suffering.

I was dismissed without any answers.  No solutions for my headaches, and surgery was simply "Too risky and not an option."  A quick "See you in a year"....and I walked out feeling WORSE than when I walked in.

So how do you get doctors to listen...REALLY listen to you?  Yes... there are rules to this, and if you follow them, I promise, you will have a great doctors visit!

First....Be specific. Instead of just complaining about your pain, describe it!  "The pain in my fingertips has been going on since 2009, and it REALLY hurts when...."  or "My headaches have been worse since 2008, and no over the counter medications seem to help."  The MORE specific you are, the better the outcome will be.

Doctors have a specific time allotted for each patient scheduled...But that does NOT mean that your time has to be cut short.  

Do NOT accept ..."See ya in a year." answers. 

Next...Keep it short. Bringing in 10 pages of your medical records is not helpful. No doctor can’t get through that in 10 minutes.  Going to the doctor, with a list of symptoms would be like taking a child to a candy store and telling them to pick their favorite candy, in 3 seconds....IMPOSSIBLE!

Try scheduling a few appointments, to talk about specific issues.  For example; I scheduled 3 appointments for myself in one month, with the same doctor.  1-to talk about tumor-related leg pain, 2- to go over the results from my thyroid ultrasound and 3- to refill important medication, and talk about side affects.

It can be overwhelming to have that many doctor visits, but trust me, you'll get a more positive and thorough result!

Know your family history, especially when it comes to genetic disorders.   Most doctors want to know  if what you are experiencing, can be tracked back to another family member.  A simple "family tree" of health related issues, can be a HUGE time saver, and I suggest you map one out, BEFORE your appointment.

Ask for what you want. “If you’re assertive and say, ‘I want to be checked for this, this, and this,’ without sounding too hypochondria-ish, doctors have an obligation to do so.  I went into the doctors stating the fact that my headaches aren't cured by simply Tylenol.  I asked for specific medication that was recommended by another doctor, and I got a prescription for it.  Know yourself...Know your needs...and present those needs confidently!  Which brings me to.....

  Don’t apologize. Think of your appointment as a business transaction!  I'm serious.  Doctors are paid to listen to everything you say.   None of this..."I'm sorry to bother you doctor" or "Do you think I should...."  That kind of talk will get you nowhere!

Understand what comes next.   Ask four questions after every appointment: What do you think of my  symptoms?  Are you ordering any lab tests? Why? And when should I expect to hear from you about the results?  Ask for any referrals or any other important information that you will need.

And last but not least...

Switch doctors (if you must). Don’t wait. Get someone new who really hears you.  It took me 33 yrs before a doctor recognized my Neurofibromatosis.  That's FAR FAR too long!  If your needs are not being met, find a doctor that will take the time to get to know you.  

I know for some, this isn't an easy process....But nothing worth having is ever "easy".  YOU are in charge of you...and no one will do it for you....

Present your new THRIVING attitude to the world, and you'll be amazed at what you get back!

Thrive On

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