Speak Up

This story was initially published on Sweet Lemon Pies, a blog and website by an amazing advocate, Karen Richards. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to write something for her.

Go check out her website and blog!
Doctors don’t always know best. They are human, and sometimes they make mistakes.

Before I got sick, I trusted doctors much more than I do now… I believed that they would always find out what was wrong, and be able to use effective treatments.

I have come to find that’s not always the case… In fact, I would say that it is rarely the case.

Medicine has come a long way in the past 150 years, but there’s so much farther to go. Doctors don’t always know what is going on or how to treat it, and so as a patient, you have to be your own advocate in the medical world.

I’ve had doctors who don’t listen, who have downgraded my concerns, and have made me feel like I was not deserving of care.

Throughout this, I’ve had to learn to speak up for myself. Speaking up has helped me in all aspects of life, not just with my health.

These are some things I have learned to speak up for:

When you’re discussing anything with your physician, don’t take everything said at face value.

Ask questions!

“Does this medication interact with my current meds?” “What side effects should I be worried about from this treatment?”

Bring literature.

It’s easy to find studies online, and for some strange reason, doctors respond better to peer reviewed papers than to their patients…

Communication is key.

Doctors won’t know how to help if you’re making your symptoms sound less than they really are. I’ve done this. I’ve made it seem like things are better than they are, because I don’t want to annoy the person treating me, or make it my fault because I wasn’t getting better.

If you aren’t feeling better, maybe something needs to change.

Doctors won’t know this unless you tell them. Of course, there are barriers to change, such as lack of insurance coverage. However, in many of those cases, there are options, but the doctor won’t be able to assist if they don’t know what’s going on.

Remember: you are the one who has to deal with the side effects and the repercussions of treatment, not them.

It’s easy for someone to prescribe something and say, “See you in a month.” But you are the one who has to live with it every day.

When it all comes down to it, human error is just as prevalent in medicine as it is in any other profession.

We expect medical professionals to be perfect and mistake-free, and they’re not. Your doctor’s mistakes might be for a variety of reasons, but mistakes will happen.

Do your research. Let your doctor know when you don’t understand or agree with something that is said.

Speak up.

It can be incredibly difficult to disagree with the person in control of your medical destiny, but even forcing them to take a second look at something complicated can prevent and lessen the change of those mistakes being made.

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