Healthcare can be extremely overwhelming. And, unfortunately, the care you receive is highly varied depending on the doctor, staff, or facility treating you. That’s why it’s imperative to advocate for yourself, especially in the wake of a confusing and daunting diagnosis.
Advocating for yourself can be difficult to do sometimes, so here are a few tips:
1) The Buddy System
Don’t be afraid to take a loved one with you to appointments and treatments if that is available to you. They can help you take notes, keep track of logistics, and make sure you’re asking all the questions you want to ask. Part of advocating for yourself is realizing you cannot do it all on your own, so having a caring person by your side to shoulder the burden will make a huge difference.
If you cannot take a loved one with you to appointments, bring a voice recorder and ask your care team if you can record the appointment. It’s hard to take notes when emotions are high, or when care providers are spouting off a lot of complicated medical words. Additionally, keep a journal with any questions that may come up between visits, and bring it with you to each appointment.
3) Ask Them Again
Forgot to ask your doctor a certain question? Call their office back. Forgot your treatment plan? Call their office back. You aren’t a burden and your questions and treatment matter. Ask them again, even if it feels a little scary to do so.
4) Your Peace of Mind Matters
While your resources may be limited, it’s very important that you feel as comfortable with your providers as possible. If that relationship isn’t working out, you are always allowed to seek care elsewhere. While healthcare is a system and there are limitations to it, there are still options out there for you to feel the best you can about it. If it’s within your power to change, don’t let fear stop you.
5) Expand Your Network
It’s important for you to feel good about the information you’re getting. Even if you aren’t a natural researcher, talk to trusted friends, loved ones, or a support group to act as a sounding board. Advocacy naturally flows out of relationships, so reach out and share your experiences and questions with others.
Ultimately, and most importantly, remember that you are worth getting the best care, so let that motivate you on your health journey.