8 Ways to Be Your Own Advocate – Part 2

Today, let’s get tactical + practical about advocating to make it happen in your own life. I included eight points I’ve learned along the way, but know there are many others. This list is not exclusive, so what else would you add? Get caught up by reading – Why’s It’s Important to Be Your Own Advocate – Part 1.

  1. Knowledge is power
    • Do your research ahead of time, but be conscience of how many times a day you visit Doctor Google searching symptoms, etc. While it is important to be informed, be cautious about the information you are processing. Is it from trusted sources? Do you know others who have found similar information? What sites or information do others you trust recommend?
    • While it may be easy to expect doctors and insurance companies to tell you everything you need to know about your situation, they WILL NOT, I repeat WILL NOT. It’s frustrating on our end because we aren’t the experts in this field. Before you get upset with them, keep in mind, they have so much information to share with you it is hard to cover everything.  The following ideas can help fill those missing gaps.
  2. Ask, ask, ask…and keep asking 
    • Do it boldly, confidently and repeatedly. Do not be afraid to ask and do not apologize for asking questions. It is your body, your life, your future baby and your money. There is a lot at stake, so own the opportunity and be informed by asking questions. Remember, you are HIRING them to provide medical care. If you are afraid you might rub the medical staff the wrong way, you might preface it by saying: “The reason I am asking all these questions is because I’m trying to understand the process, purposes, etc. I am NOT questioning your expertise. I want to be proactive with my care and be informed to assist with my health.”  You don’t know what you don’t know, so ask and ask again.
  3. Pay attention to your body 
    • As much as I wish we could all be treated the same, because it sure would make things easier, our bodies are different, which means each person requires a different medical map. This is a good thing, but it also means the doctor may not be able to just look at you or your blood work and say you have blank diagnosis. It’s our responsibility to pay attention to our bodies. They are a temple of God and send us signals everyday about our health. The more you know, the more you can assist your doctor in finding out what is really going on, or at least possibly move the process along quicker. Use a journal, create a spreadsheet, do whatever works best for you.
    • Remember that doctors are human, not God. Yes, they went to school for a very long time, but that doesn’t mean they know everything. Doctors know the human body, but they don’t know YOUR body. YOU know your body and that’s why it’s important to pay attention to what it’s telling you.
  4. Be understanding, up to a certain point 
    • In my opinion, people in healthcare have one of the toughest jobs. They have demanding hours and are working with people during some of their worst times because they don’t feel well. HOWEVER, it DOES NOT give them a free pass to cut their time short with you. If at any time you feel you aren’t getting adequate time or respect for you and your situation, STOP, and politely remind them why you made an appointment in the first place and how much you would appreciate them giving you the amount of time you need to address all your questions. Remember, it’s your body, your life and your money.
  5. Stay organized
    • Most likely, you will be receiving a lot of information and staying organized keeps you from getting even more overwhelmed. What good is gathering all that information if it’s not organized and accessible? Start a binder to keep track of all your bills, visits, notes from the doctor, etc. Feel free to request your medical records, ultrasounds and results after all your visits. Doing this creates some order in a situation that feels out of control and puts you in the driver seat when it comes to your health.
  6. Identify what type of patient you are 
    • I’ll admit, I never thought of this question until I started getting poked and prodded every month. Through trial and error, I now know I’m the type of patient that wants a step-by-step explanation about the process and WHAT I will FEEL each step of the way. For some, this might not be important, but it has really helped keep me calm during the different procedures I’ve had. The type of patient you are may match the type of person you are. Not always, but it’s a place to start.
  7. Talk to other people 
    • You don’t have to share every detail, but it’s so helpful to get pointers from others who have walked this journey. Your walk will not be the same, but you’ll start to find similarities, which may be applicable to your situation and makes the journey less isolating. I have learned the most about our situation from talking to other couple’s going through infertility.
  8. Trust your gut 
    • It’s when something doesn’t feel right or doesn’t fall in line with your values. It’s pausing to do a heart check to see how you are truly doing and feel about the path you are on.  It’s trusting that gut feeling when it’s time to switch doctors, try a different protocol, get a 2nd opinion or stop treatments all together. You may not be able to explain it, but trust yourself to make the best decision for your health and know you are doing everything you can to help your situation.

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