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Your Health, Your Choice Series: Bring a Partner to Appointments and Don't Be Afraid to Look for New Providers

Are You Ready to Self-Advocate with Confidence?

blowing confetti from handsIn my recent blogs, I’ve equipped you with several tips and questions you should be asking when you assess your provider-patient relationships you have. There are three more important tips or prompts to consider and add to your toolbox.

Bring a Loved One or Friend to Your Appointments

When thinking about your medical care, remember that it’s absolutely okay to bring another person with you into your appointments. You don’t need special permission and they don’t need to be legally declared as your medical or healthcare power of attorney to do so.

Depending on what kind of care you are seeking, it can be really overwhelming to hear the many options for procedures or medications to treat your illness or disease. It’s always good to have another set of ears listening to the options and solutions presented.

Often, that person you choose will also remember things about your health that you may temporarily be forgetting in light of a stressful diagnosis. For some of us, even a simple checkup appointment can cause us to become forgetful; white-coat syndrome is a real thing! A partner in your appointment can help you understand the next steps more clearly, even writing things down for you as they’re being said for your reference after the appointment.

You may receive or perceive pushback from providers, but the simple fact remains: you are in control and if you are more comfortable having someone with you, you can choose to do so.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fire Your Doctor

When assessing your care team, another thing to keep in mind is that a family practitioner or general practitioner is just that—a doctor who has to cover a wide-range of potential illnesses and conditions for people across many age ranges. They have a lot of ground to cover, medically speaking, and your visit is typically within a 15-minute window, as is designed by those middlemen we discussed in an earlier blog.

If you find they cannot address your specific concerns, or they treat you like you are imagining symptoms or question your experience of what is happening in your body because you don’t have a medical degree, it’s time to walk. Similarly, if they respond with an “I don’t know,” and don’t offer to explore your concern further, that’s not acceptable. It’s time to find someone new.

Add Practitioners Who Specialize in Your Health Concerns to Your Team

Now, leaving a provider is not always possible, given insurance parameters and care available in various areas of the country. In this case, it’s imperative to take the reins and seek out someone who specializes in your individual medical concerns or illnesses to add to your team.

A connection won’t magically be made between your general provider and a functional or alternative medicine professional. You have to be your own quarterback for your care team and seek out care specific to your concern.

A real-life example of this happens often in this country with women struggling in perimenopause. A patient may present the symptoms of anxiety and depression, in addition to hot flashes, night sweats, etc. and raise that concern with their general provider during their yearly checkup. The general provider will give them a checklist to fill out, and from those results, may determine they meet the qualifications for depression and anxiety medication, and prescribe antidepressants. They may even strongly suggest therapy. Hormone levels will not be checked. Perimenopause will not be discussed.

In this case, the patient should not hesitate to seek help from a functional medicine doctor who specializes in perimenopause and menopause. And this is true for any medical concern, whether you are in the throes of menopause or want to add functional or alternative medicine practitioners to your team of oncologists following a cancer diagnosis. Again, you know your body better than anyone.

You are Your Best Advocate

Finally, remember that you are in control and come to terms with self-advocacy. It takes a lot of work, and it can seem unfair at times with everything on our plates, but have faith and trust in yourself. You know how you are feeling, you live this life every day in your body.

It doesn’t matter what your education is, what you do for a living, or where you are along life’s spectrum. You deserve to be treated like a human being, not a number. Your concerns should be heard, and answers should be sought on your behalf.

And if they aren’t, you have every right to find a different provider. This is your body, and you know your body best!

For more information about advocating for yourself in the healthcare industry, or the many concerns we have as we try mastering menopause, including health and wellness and nutrition, contact us today!


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