Thursday, April 18, 2013

You ARE Your Advocate

A bajillion years ago I got married.  Ok, fine, it was 4.5 years ago.  Anyway, I was part of a local message board for women (and I suppose men) who were looking for ideas and information about gettin'  hitched.  After I got married I kept going back to the board to see other ladies who had gotten married and just chat.  At the time I was trying to lose weight and needed motivation and support.  A suggestion was made to check out Prior Fat Girl.  Long story short, that was my first real blog inspiration for losing weight.  The site has since changed to less frequent posting by less people, but I still read it.

Last Monday while taking a break at work, I read Dawn's Post on being an advocate.  I've experienced my own issues with this and commented about agreeing with her.   I will forever have problems with my jaw because of medical choices that neither I, nor my parents questioned.  Then I headed off to the only open doctor in the clinic I go to, for a reoccurring issue that was not only painful, but causing problems with the pain management of my TMJ issues.  The office visit ended with the doctor patting my hand, telling me to get rid of my dog and journal about my stess and I'd be fine.

I didn't go back to work and I cried the whole way home.  Here I was just talking about being my own best advocate and I couldn't even advocate for myself to get some resolution to my issues.  I felt frustrated, powerless and angry.  I ended up back at my wonderful doctor later in the week, armed with a plan to figure out what was going on and an alteration in my pain management plan to address my issues.

My point?  I guess my point is that in this day, don't blindlessly accept what a doctor tells you.  My point is that you need to find a doctor who not only listens to you, but works WITH you to develop a treatment plan for you. 

I thought I had this.  I thought that I had developed a skin that would allow me to question what I am told when it doesn't feel right and ask for more explanation, until it does feel right.  I thought that I could advocate for myself in the moment to get treatment when I needed it.  I thought that I knew myself.  What I found was that I am a great advocate when it comes to those professionals that I've sought out as part of my care team.  I'm a great advocate when I'm not worn down by pain.  I'm a great advocate when I can sit and think on something and develop an answer. 

So I'm regrouping.  Because I must be my own advocate.  That is, unless I bring my Mom or Pete with me to every medical appointment.  I need to start really thinking about how I can get my point across and get what I need, without feeling like I am somehow offending that doctor by questioning them or being perceived as 'mean' but not agreeing with them.  I need to be forceful, but in my own  way.  I need to make sure that someone who treats me actually READS my file or listens to my story before passing judgement and leaving.  I need to be my own best advocate. 

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