For many the moment becoming an empowered patient occurs when you just say NO to a medical professional for whatever reason. It could be in regards to a new medication, a diagnostic test or a procedure. It can be a very pivotal moment in a relationship with the medical community.
You might be thinking how and why would I say no to my doctor or nurse?
I was talking to a friend who has a chronic illness and she was telling me about her journey with the medical system. She explained to me how for many years she just shuffled along in the system doing what everyone told her to do. The problem was she wasn’t getting any relief. Instead, she was beginning to feel hopeless and sicker. Her main complaint was no one would listen to her. Her doctor would give her medication to try and not explain how it worked or what to look out for. She desperately wanted someone to hear her voice.
One day, her doctor gave her another medication to try and said good luck. She looked at him and said no more. I am not going to take this medicine and I am not coming back here. She left the office upset, angry, and frustrated. She decided to find a doctor or team who actually wanted to work with her to get some relief and improve her quality of life. She decided it didn’t matter if she had to travel because she was done feeling like an outsider in the decisions about her medical care.
She went home and started researching her illness. She learned the physiology of the illness, current treatments and research. She investigated treatment centers and doctors. She sought advise from others on how to select a specialist. She stopped listening to people tell her not to believe what she read on the Internet. She read reviews. She became an expert about her illness. She was ready.
She made a the choice of a new medical team through her research. What she did learn from her past experience was that it was important the doctor listen and work with her. She wanted a relationship with a doctor who would accept her knowledge and work with her to achieve her goal of a better quality of life. She wanted a professional who willing shared information.
She did find a specialist who respected her needs. She told she was happy to have a team working with her. She also said, she never went to an appointment without a list of questions or concerns and never started a new medication without doing extensive research. She did achieve a better quality of life even as her disease progresses. She feels her participation in her healthcare gives her strength and direction.
It was inspiring for me to listen to her story. She was able to improve her life by changing how she viewed her interaction with the healthcare system. It takes courage to belief in yourself and switch medical care especially with a chronic illness. The power in the empowered patient is knowing you can make a decision of this magnitude because it is your health and well being at stake.