Self Advocacy for your health…the article that caused a buzz
Let me share a little story with you that may bring my point of the importance of self care and self advocacy home. On Friday, September 25th at 9:30 a.m. I found myself unexpectedly at my doctor’s office where she was confirming the breast lump I had found two hours earlier. She looked me in the eyes and said she was worried that with my auto-immune condition, this could be something serious. Further palpation gave her the idea I also had an enlarged thyroid. As more worry lines appeared on her face she asked, “So how are you feeling with your auto-immune issues?” “About the same as always,” I responded. “Listen” she says, “I think we need to run some tests on you and if they come back positive, I want you to be prepared to have an extensive list of specific tests run.” By 5:30 that afternoon, I’d had two ultrasounds, a mammogram and a series of blood panels run.
I bet you want to know how the story ends and I’ll tell you…..later. Right now I want you to know how relieved my family was to know that I had the situation in hand and that I was staying on top of it. Because I’d been proactive about my health, they didn’t have to worry and wonder about whether or not I would take care of myself. They didn’t have to advocate for me and go look for doctors for me or with me because I’d already found one I connected with long before.
In fact, they didn’t have to do a thing but love and support me because they know that when it comes to health, I’m self motivated. I’m my own health advocate. How about you? Do you advocate for yourself when it comes to your physical and mental health? If not and you need help, have you considered asking a loved one to be your health advocate?
I want to encourage you to spend some quality time getting to know your mind and body! Look at it, touch it and figure out what normal feels like so that when the abnormal shows up you can do what you want or need to do.
Make the effort to find a doctor that you really feel good about. Interview several before you sign on to be a patient and let them know the purpose of your visit. Some of them will be surprised, others shocked and the ones you want to work with will be pleased. Let them know what you are looking for and ask about what is important to you. That way,when and if the time arises that you need care, you will have a doctor you are comfortable with and whose opinions you respect. You won’t have to second guess them because you will have already established your relationship.
I believe there is nothing more important than self care and self advocacy and that is what we are really talking about here. Give yourself the choice to explore options and opinions of others but remember that your thoughts, feelings and opinions are the ones that count the most. And remember too, the most generous gift you can give your loved ones is the care you give yourself.
Oh yeah, so back to my story: While I still have auto-immune issues that I’ve had most of my life, I do not have scleroderma, kidney failure or breast cancer. The thyroid issue is ongoing but I suspect it isn’t going to be of any real concern as long as I remain proactive about my health. Did I freak out along the way? You bet I did but I also made sure I understood what was happening and how my choices could make a difference. They were, after all, my choices to make. What choices will you make for yourself?
If you need help with self care or becoming your own advocate, feel free to contact me.
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