The following is an excerpt from my book titled “A SHOT IN THE ASS!“. I trust this bit of wisdom will bless you or a loved one. You can find the ebook on AMAZON.com under my pen name N.E. Thomas. Enjoy a quick and powerful read! And definitely let me know your thoughts!
#5 Be Your Own Best Advocate
You have to be your own best advocate. Admittedly I didn’t quite start out this way, but I learned quickly – I had to be my own best advocate in order to feel some type of control. From the initial diagnosis, to choosing medications, to choosing physical therapy after the stroke, I realized that the professional anal retentive organizer in me had a place in my life – as the advocate for a patient of a horrible disease. I did my own research. I kept notes on everything, every visit and every doctor – patient discussion. I felt like a university researcher, always looking for that elusive answer!
So what did being my own best advocate do for me?
- My neurologist took me seriously. When I spoke they listened. When I made a request they gave it thoughtful consideration. When I asked a question, they answered. Whether it was the doctor, the nurse practitioner or their administrative staff, they all took me seriously.
- It shifted my own paradigm regarding the disease. The more I learned about the disease, neurology as a science, the medications and my reactions to all of the above, the more I realized that there was more I was in control of than I originally thought.
- My neurologist was my consultant and not my dictator. This was kind of a by-product of above #1. I discovered that when they took me seriously, she became what she was supposed to be – my consultant. When decisions needed to be made, she offered choices, not pre-made decisions. When I questioned or objected to the choices she offered or the decision that she’d made, she didn’t get angry or upset. She had an appropriate response for all of my concerns.
- My family trusted me to tell them the truth. There is nothing worse for family and loved ones than to find out that you didn’t tell them the truth regarding your medical condition. Whether you simply forgot because you were overwhelmed or whether you purposefully didn’t tell them because you didn’t want them to worry, your brand and your word are on the line. .It will be just like the boy who cried wolf. You complain or lie about so much that no one really cares to be involved when you really may need their help. So I simply told the truth, regardless of how ugly it was.
- I did things my way. My diagnosing neurologist knew that I was an athlete. Because she was also an athlete, she had some empathy for what I’ was going through. More importantly, she treated me like an athlete and she acted more like my coach. It sounds strange but she met me where I was and treated me where I was. When my health took a nasty turn for the worse, she still treated me like an athlete. She knew I wasn’t going to lay down and give up. She knew I was going to fight with every last breath that I had. So all of her choices were not whether I would fight but how I would fight. And that made all of the difference in the world in my physical recovery and in my mental outlook towards recovery. She honored the way that I fought the disease and she supported my best efforts to live a normal life. She allowed me to do things my way.
Being your own advocate simply means that you acknowledge what you have control of and what you don’t. The secret is to take full control of what you control and don’t obsess about what is NOT in your control.
I don’t argue about the 2 hour MRI that has to be done annually although I absolutely hate it. However, I do control when it occurs. For example if my health care flex spending account is low, the MRI has to wait! My MRI costs $1600 or more after insurance has paid their part! So yes, I negotiate strongly over when that scan will take place. Trust me, the doctor will understand. Also, when I take the scan, I request a valium pill as a twilight sedative. Just enough to calm me down and make me slightly drowsy while in the machine. 2 hours in an MRI machine is a long time to be perfectly still! So I ask for the pill and they send the prescription to my pharmacist. No questions or problems. Two small things I do have control over and I always feel better having made these decisions.
If you take control of what you do have control over, you’ll naturally be able to handle other things outside of your control much better.