How to be your body’s own health Advocate.
Over the past two decades, I have had my fair share of health challenges. But none were to surpass that of being diagnosed with a rare non-malignant brain tumor at the age of 34. The chaos that ensued within my mind after that diagnosis was challenging to lay to rest. I was soon to learn that this was the beginning of a journey…yes, a health journey but also one in which I would need to learn the lesson of ‘how to be your body’s own health advocate.’
Advocate: a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
This was one of the best ‘lifesaving’ lessons I was to learn that has since been applied several times in a multitude of different scenarios.
Here are a few tips I found useful that I am passing onto you today:
Tips on how to be your body’s own health advocate
Read up and be informed!
- Read up on your condition, treatment options and be informed. However, my words of advice are: The great thing about the Internet is the accessibility to data and information. The not-so-great thing about the Internet is the accessibility to data and information. It can be overwhelming and soul-destroying when you read too much, so tread carefully and try to be objective. Statistics can be depressing and you are not just a number!
- Look to other treatment facilities within your country and outside your country, if this is an option.
- See if you are able to get a second opinion. This is important, especially if you have a rare condition that warrants a second opinion. Ask for one.
- It is always useful to keep note of your medical history from day one. Ask for a copy of your medical records so that you can have a copy on hand. If you have any tests done, get a copy too. This will prove useful if you ever need a second opinion, as well as for your own use to read over. Buy yourself a file to put all your records in and then it becomes an easy process.
- Keep a diary of your symptoms, medications and appointments so that you are fully in command and ‘in the know’ of what is going on.
- Before going to your medical appointments, make a list of the questions you want to ask (in your diary). It is so easy to forget the important ones when you are in the doctor’s room!
Be a team
- Partner with your medical team and health care providers. This can only be of benefit to you and your body!
- Ask questions, update them on any changes, and listen to their opinions.
- Ask a family member or friend to attend your medical appointment if you feel you may need support or may forget what the doctor said in your appointment (believe me, I did this many times!).
Learning how to be your body’s own health advocate is probably one of the best gift’s we can give ourselves, just as being our own advocate is.
It is no easy task; it takes strength and courage, each time…But the end result is worth the effort.
I wish you well!