Even with a great arsenal of doctors, you still need to summon all your strength to look out for No. 1 – you.
This is why you need to make resolutions that will help you get the most from your medical care.
Resolve to speak up about feeling poorly. Too many patients – and I have been one of them – try not to “bother” the doctor by complaining about troublesome symptoms, medication side effects, and so on. Doctors aren’t mind readers, and with your excellent cadre of doctors in place, you should feel comfortable and empowered to talk freely with any physician on your team.
Resolve to call the doctor with questions. This falls under the not-wanting-to-bother-the-doctor category, as well as a patient’s fear of seeming stupid by asking questions. Feel free to ask questions, even if you need to clarify what you had already asked him or her. A great doctor won’t mind and will do his or her best to answer your questions to the fullest.
Resolve to share your emotional state. It’s really important for doctors and other medical staff to see you as a human being who happens to be a patient. Let your emotions out: cry if you need to, and/or verbalize how you feel emotionally. This should help remind the medical team that you are a real person with real feelings.
Resolve to consider the medical team as co-partners in your care. You are the most important part of the medical team, of course. However, you need to embrace the medical staff as co-partners in your care. Helping you is truly a team effort; by viewing your medical experience as a team experience, you will be better able to communicate and bond with doctors, nurses, and other staff.
Resolve to fire a doctor who silences you rather than listens to you. A doctor who mistreats you should not be your doctor. Enough said.
Resolve to ask the same question in different ways, multiple times if necessary. It’s often easy to get lost in medical-speak and get confused. That’s why it is so crucial to ask questions – even if they are the same questions worded differently – to get a concrete, understandable answer. Sometimes you need to reiterate what a doctor says just to ensure you understand what is being said. Clarifying information is a win-win for everyone on your team.
Resolve to use support systems. If you are not at your best, it can be a good idea to bring a friend, caregiver, or relative to help process medical information for you. Relying on a caregiver or other support person, however, can have its drawbacks. Friends and caregivers may believe they are looking out for your own best interest, but can be domineering and biased in helping you make decisions and thus negatively affect your medical care.
Resolve to follow up on appointments and procedures. Be proactive in your health by keeping track of your follow up physicals and procedures. Make that appointment and stick to it no matter how scared or defiant you feel. I have to work on this resolution myself, as I’m scared and defiant when it comes to setting up appointments.
Resolve to use art as therapy. These include drawing, writing, listening to or producing music. We need to care for ourselves holistically, and that means indulging in activities that calm us.
Do you have any health-related resolutions to add to the list? I really would love to hear them.