Those who know me understand the past seven years have not been easy from a health perspective. In 2008 I was diagnosed with a very nasty and dangerous from of cancer.
I went through a significant amount of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant and targeted therapies. During all of my treatment the management of my health care fell to my wife Suzanne and I. Luckily we had done good research and received good advice along the way.
Here are some of the things I learned over the past seven years that might help you if you find yourself in a similar place:
You must be your own advocate.
This is the key to managing your health. If you aren’t willing to ask tough questions, there’s a reasonable chance the advice you get won’t be the best.
Remember the word why. Like all industries the health care industry is filled with jargon. You might not understand what your doctor is talking about. You might not understand why they are making the recommendations they’re making.
This is where you get to ask one of my favorite questions, “why?” If you’re not willing to do this there’s a good chance the type of care you receive isn’t going to be what you want.
If you find yourself with significant health problems find someone in the system who can manage it for you.
When I was in the depths of my cancer treatment I was dealing with six different doctors with six different agendas. At that point in my care, there wasn’t anyone who was a health care professional managing my case. It was left to Suzanne and I.
I’m thinking you might not want to be in the same place. Luckily there is a movement towards a particular type of General Practitioner called a concierge practice. In these practices your doctor will only accept 400 hundred patients. This is far better than the 3,000 that many GP’s handle on a regular basis.
When you use a concierge practice you get the attention you need with a complicated health issue. You get someone to spend the right amount of time helping you understand your options and you get someone who is going to help you use the right specialist when needed.
Don’t pay too much attention to what you find on the internet.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer the first place Suzanne and I went was the internet. That was a big mistake. It was a big mistake for two reasons:
First, much information on the internet is out of date. Second, lots of information you read is just wrong.
In my case I thought I had about a 20% chance of survival. That was because most of the information I found was out of date. On the internet there’s a lot of articles that show up in search results that is years old. That was true for me.
If you must look for information on the internet find out when the article was published and is it from a reputable source. If you don’t find a good answer to both, don’t take what you read too seriously.
Don’t keep your health problem a secret.
If you’re facing a serious health issue I want you to share what’s going on. When you share what’s going on you’ll find support will come out of the wood work.
Having a health scare or worse a full blown health emergency is scary. Having people around who can support you will make getting through your health issue easier. You can be sure that when you share what’s going on in your life, support will come from places you never expected.
In my case I used Caring Bridge to keep those who were interested in my situation up to date with what was going on. I posted almost every day and it allowed those who wanted to jump in and support me an easy method of doing so. It also made it easier on Suzanne by not having to answer the same question ten times a day or more.
Find a support group.
In my case I found a support group for those who were going through blood cancer treatments. If you have a serious health issue you’ll find there is a support group for almost any type of issue you might be facing.
I’ll bet you’ll find it comforting to know that what you’re going through isn’t all that different than many other people. When we go through a health crisis by ourselves, it’s too easy to think that we’re alone and no one else has ever gone through what we’re going through.
If that’s your thought, then you would be wrong. Find a support group. You’ll be glad you did.
All of the above is a good answer.
When I was moving through cancer world I made the decision that all of the above was a good answer. I used all the traditional medicine I could find. I also used alternative methods like massage, acupuncture and meditation. All were useful and all played a role with my recovery.
Don’t get hung up with just using traditional medicine. Lots of alternatives could have a place in your treatment.
If you’ve been through a serious health issue, why don’t you click here and let me know you’re experience is. You can also feel free to forward this post to a friend that might benefit from it.