Be Your Own Advocate


I talk to a lot of people in my own thyroid support group and in several others where I am a member or Admin. We get several people in there a week in a panic because their doctor gave them incomplete information, or worse, told them something that scared them to death without taking the time to point them in the direction of information that would help them.

For instance, we had someone join the group recently. They were just told that they had thyroid disease. That was all their doctor had told them. They came to the group scared that they was going to die. “Am I going to die?” was literally the first question asked when joined. So we talked to them, found out where their thyroid levels were (slightly hypothyroid) and what treatment the doctor had prescribed for them (thyroid replacement medicine) and were able to give them more detailed information than what they were given. I asked if the doctor had taken the time to explain anything about the diagnosis, and was told they had not just the diagnosis and pretty much that was it, no questions answered, no further information. It took several of us a couple of hours to get this person calmed down. No one should have to leave their doctors office feeling that way.  I’ve seen this scenario happen all too often.

The second most common thing I see,  is a person will find out that that they have something wrong with them that their doctor never told them. Such as the person who went to a specialist who asked them, “So what is your regular doctor doing about your extremely low calcium levels?” While the person is sitting there in shock because their doctor never mentioned this to them. This leaves a person wondering why their doctor isn’t giving them the full information on their health? Shouldn’t a person have a right to know if something is affecting their health? What else isn’t the doctor revealing and why?

In this era of ten minute visits with doctors and specialists being overbooked, this sort of thing happens all too often. People come in seeking a doctor’s help to feel better, and they are given little information on what is wrong. Then if they even get a diagnosis, they have no idea how they are supposed to handle this limited information about their health. Without information, a person cannot make good decisions about their health. Without information, a person can, and will jump to the worst case scenarios. It would have taken the doctor maybe 5 extra minutes to sit down and give a basic tutorial of what a diagnosis means to a person which could make all the difference in how a person handles things. Thank goodness there are still doctors and other health care providers out there who will take the time to try to educate and comfort their patients while they are in the office,  and make sure their mental well being is taken care of, as well as their physical well being before BEFORE they walk out the door.

So what can a person do to avoid this scenario of not getting nearly enough information about their health to make any sort of rational judgement? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when next you go to your doctor, remember the doctor works for YOU, you do not work for them:

  1. What tests do we need to run to confirm a diagnosis? What are the risks of these tests?
  2. What is my diagnosis if you have one for me? Can you give me a definition of what that diagnosis means so that I can understand it?
  3. What are the options available to me to treat this condition?
  4. What is the medicine you are prescribing and what is it for? Are there any side effects?
  5. Ask for a copy of any test results or labs to take with you. Explain this is a way for you to follow up  and keep up with your own health.
  6. What if anything, do I need to do at home to take care of this? Are there any dietary changes that need to be made for instance?
  7. How soon do we need to start treatment, or can I take some time to think about my options (for major treatment issues like surgery, RAI, etc.)
  8. Do you have any literature you can give me about my condition, or do you have any books or websites that you recommend to help me understand?
  9. What signs or symptoms should I watch out for that would signal my condition getting worse?

There is no need to be aggressive when dealing with your doctor. Let the doctor know you want to be a partner with them in your healthcare. For instance if you would like them to run more tests that they normally would not, ask them if they could please run them this time for your peace of mind and to rule things out. If you have a doctor that no matters what will not run the tests or give you the treatment you feel you need to be healthy, it’s perfectly ok to look around for another doctor who will work with you.

If you need a new doctor, feel free to check out this list at warriorbutterflies.com all health care providers on the list have been recommended by a thyroid patient who has been helped by that person. If you have a fantastic doctor that works well with you, please let us know at Warrior Butterflies so we can add them to the list of doctors.

You can see Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney also

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