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Educate Yourself


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#1 Penny

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 01:14 PM

Hi All,

I am a huge supporter of self-education when it comes to advocating for your own health and fully believe that there is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to finding out what is going on in our bodies.

Doctors go through vigorous training to be able to practice medicine and when they do finally set up a practice they can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of patients with varying conditions. Their best defense is to follow the "if it looks like a zebra" methodology, not because they don't care but because they have to manage their time between so many patients and "the simplest answer is usually the correct one."

Because of this, people with diverse symptoms may spend years being bounced around from test to test as the doctor starts with the most troubling symptom and tries to find out what it means while putting everything else on the back burner.

Patients feel frustration and sometimes even give up on looking for what is wrong after a while because they never seem to get anywhere.

We, as patients, must take a more active roll in our diagnosis and treatment. We cannot simply go to the doctor, tell them what it happening then go home and expect the doctor to drop everything and give all his energy to our problems. He has too many patients to focus his energy on just us.

I believe in educating ourselves. Get yourself a good book on medical conditions (Merck Home Manual is a great one to have), a prescription drug guide (great for looking up drug interactions, side effects and generic names) and keep a personal medical journal listing your current list of medications (including OTC and herbal), allergies and any changes to symptoms.

Get a copy of all test results and look for a (H) or (L) next to the values and look online.

Take notes at the doctor's office and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Learn to search online effectively. For example:

You have a headache, nosebleed and pressure behind your eyes and want to know what it could be, so you go to your favorite search engine and type in "headache" "nosebleed" "Pressure behind the eyes". Putting the separate symptoms in quotation marks will help the search engine narrow down the search to those words exactly, and will improve the chances of getting pages with all three items listed.

If you find something on your own online or in a book and it seems to fit what is going on don't be afraid to bring it up to your doctor. He or she might have been thinking along the same lines and even if they weren't, a caring doctor will be willing to listen and will usually act on what you bring them. Don't be afraid of upsetting them or stepping on toes, this is your life and you have the right to ask.

Penny

#2 Jeannie McClelland

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 06:21 PM

Hear, hear! I agree with you 100%.
Jeannie McClelland
(Retired) ISN Director of Support Services
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International Scleroderma Network

#3 Cher

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Posted 21 February 2009 - 10:09 AM

Hi Penny,

You are sooo right. You go girl!

Cher