"You are your own best advocate" is the number one advice I give to chronic illness and autoimmune warriors all the time. But what does this truly mean? What does it look like in action? White coat syndrome is real and let me tell you, its not easy to get over. BUT you do yourself a major disservice if you don't learn that you can control the trajectory of your doctors appointments. Today we will discuss what advocating for yourself can look like, and the practical steps you can take.
1. Have questions for your doctor prepared before hand. And don't be afraid to ask them.
Write them down, don't just keep them in your head because you are bound to forget them, once the doctor begins talking. As a patient, you shouldn't leave an appointment feeling more confused than when you walked in. Instead, you should be more informed. Before every appointment, I run possible scenarios in my head "If she says _____, I need to ask____". And although it takes lots of brain power, it makes me feel confident in the information I have received. I love to be well informed by my doctor which prevents me from googling later and finding misinformation.
2. If you are afraid to ask your doctor the questions, hand them your list and ask them to talk through them with you.
This helps when your anxiety is really high. It takes the pressure off of you and puts the ball in their court. If you have white coat syndrome, this will most likely be the best approach to handling your anxiety.
3. Believe your body, and track your symptoms.
No, you are not crazy. And it is not in your head. BELIEVE YOUR BODY. Pain doesn't happen for no good reason, it is a signal that something is wrong. When you track your symptoms, you are giving the doctor an inside look into your life the days that he doesn't see you. Most times, by the time you see the doctor, the initial symptom you were calling for has dissipated. Document that by writing down and taking pictures.
4. Fire your doctor, if necessary.
When your doctor says there is nothing wrong and you are consistently feeling pain, it is time to fire your doctor and find a new one. Your doctor should be excited to help you find answers, not diminishing the pain you experience. Finding a doctor with good bedside manners seems to be a rarity these days, but it doesn't mean you don't deserve it.
5. Express yourself clearly and concisely.
When speaking with your doctor, express what you need from them. This is a two way relationship, not a dictatorship. Just as they can tell you what you need and what they desire for you, you also have that right. Make sure your voice is being heard in regards to your care and treatment.
All in all, it is important to remember that you have the ability to set the tonne for your appointments. Walk in confidence knowing that you have a say in your care.
Until next time,
Head up, shoulders back, you were made for this!
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