Thursday, September 22, 2011

Taking Charge of your Health

I have been wanting to write this post for a long time.  I love and care about all of my friends and family and I want you to be the healthiest friends and family anybody could imagine. 

You really take your body, and how wonderfully it all works, for granted until something goes wrong.  When something goes wrong with your health it changes your life.  I want everyone to be the healthiest they can be.

First I want to talk about going to the doctor.  I know a lot of people find annual check ups annoying and unnecessary, but these check ups are so important.  If your doctor can find something wrong with you before it progresses, or before you have symptoms, that is worth all the annoying check ups in the world.

Many women dread their annual gynecological appointment and might put it off for years.  Please don't put this appointment off.  Going to your gynecologist is not just to check for STDs, it is about your reproductive health.  Bacterial vaginosis is disease that is not an  STD, any woman can get this.  It can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.  If caught early, it is easily treated.  Also, if you are ever thinking about having children, you can start talking to your doctor about this years before you are actually trying to conceive.

Men are less likely to see a doctor than women are. If you are hurt you should definitely go to your doctor.   If you treat the injury immediately you can better your chances of a full recovery.  If you just hope the injury will get better on its own, it might not.  The injury could get worse in the long run and you will have more health problems down the road.

Next I want to "lecture" you on finding a good doctor.  There are so many doctors to choose from, the task of finding a good doctor is a very difficult one.  To find a good doctor you can go online and look at the doctors profile.  Online you can find out the school that they graduated from and how long they have been a doctor.  Then you can also ask friends, families, and acquaintances for recommendations.  Looking at reviews online can sometimes be helpful.  If there are only 4 or 5 reviews, this is not a very accurate representation of the doctor.  However, when I was looking at surgeons, I found hundreds of reviews from patients, and this way I could get a more accurate representation. The last thing you have to do is go visit the doctor.  If you like your doctor and feel that he is competent you can stick with him.  If you feel like your doctor is mean, rude, or and idiot, find a new doctor.

Now lets talk about what to do at a doctors visit.  Go to your doctors visit knowing more about your symptoms and possible diagnosis than you think your doctor will know.  Knowledge is power.  I always hear doctors say they hate it when patients google their symptoms, but there are conditions that doctors dont even know about, like my FAI, so bring your knowldege.  When I tell doctors I have FAI they don't even know what that is, so I bring a google printout and a nice picture diagram with me to all my doctor visits.  Bring online print outs with you so you don't forget anything.  You should also come with a list of questions written down.  Bring a notebook and a pen to write down any information your doctor tells you.  Sometimes doctors are not good at explaining things in lame-mans terms and you will need to look up some terms later.

If you feel something is wrong with your body and doctors are blowing you off, don't give up on getting the proper treatment.  I spent 13 years living with my painful FAI and hip dysplasia until I finally got a diagnosis.  I wish I would have been more aggressive in a diagnosis sooner.   Once you get a diagnosis you can have a treatment plan and hopefully get your life back on track.  Even if it is not a curable disease,  there are always different ways to manage a disease and you can get support from others living with your condition. 

At a doctor visit I was filling out a regular questioner and my doctor read through it and asked me about my sore throats.  I had been suffering with sore throats since I was a child and all the doctors I had seen previously told me it was psychosomatic.  Well, this doctor diagnosed me with GERD, or acid reflux disease.  The acid from my tummy was causing my sore throats.  Now that I know what was wrong I can manage it.  I don't eat or drink anything acidic after 5 o'clock and I don't wake up with sore throats anymore.  No more orange juice at bedtime.  It was such a simple diagnosis but it helped my life so much. 

The last thing I want you to remember about seeing a doctor is that your doctor is working for you.  You are paying him a lot of money to see you so he better be working hard for his money.  Make sure he is listening to you and taking your symptoms seriously.  Without you, the patient, your doctor would be out of a job.  Don't let your doctor bully you, or be condescending to you.  I don't know why, but some doctors think they are smarter than everyone else.  They are not smarter, they just went to medical school so they have more knowledge of medicine.  If you do get one of these egotistical doctors, use it to your advantage to ask a lot of questions and get answers at your visit.  If you don't feel comfortable going back to this doctor, then get a new doctor.

Taking charge of your health also means remembering to be healthy every day.  This means making good choices for your body like remembering to floss and eating a balanced diet. And you can't forget to take care of your mental health as well.  If you are feeling down or sad, you can talk to someone you trust.  If you are feeling stressed you can go for a walk, or take a long bath with a glass of wine (if you are not an alcoholic).  Don't forget to tell your doctor about your mental health as well.  Anxiety and depression can be a symptom of another disease, and frankly, are just difficult to live with.

I know this seems like a simple post, but I am writing it from my heart to yours.  These things seem so simple but I wish I would have put my health as a priority sooner.  I know life gets busy, and you feel like you don't have time to put your health first.  Just remember, you only get one body in your lifetime.  You will go through a handful of jobs, numerous cars, and gadgets, but you body is going to be with you forever.  Doctors are not miracle workers; they cannot fix all the bad things that can happen to your body, so please be proactive in taking care of your health.

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