Do you feel uncomfortable being completely honest with your doctor or any healthcare professional you encounter?
I felt the same way when I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme. I felt like it was rude to call out a healthcare professional if I thought they did something wrong, or to disagree with my doctor if they said something that didn’t align with what I truly felt.
I’m a kind person and my intentions are never to offend anyone, especially people who are taking care of me. However, in my years of dealing with dozens of doctors and healthcare professionals, I’ve learned how important it is to speak up about what I truly think. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that my doctors have all the information that they need in order to treat me.
Here are my top tips on how you can feel more comfortable in speaking up about your health when talking to your doctors and other healthcare professionals:
Get it in your head early on that doctors do not know everything.
They are amazing and save so many lives, but chances are, you know better what’s going on with your body and what your condition is. Don’t try to walk on eggshells when talking to your doctor and withhold information that might contradict what she is saying.
It’s better to overshare information and share everything you think might be relevant instead of not saying anything because you think it might not be important.
More importantly, trust your instincts and listen to your body. That’s what Kelly Osbourne, rockstar and Lyme advocate, did when she was also diagnosed and it has served her well.
If you don’t feel comfortable speaking up, bring an advocate who can speak up on your behalf.
If you’re like me who isn’t confrontational by nature, you can bring a friend or a family member who isn't afraid to ask the hard questions. That’s why whenever it’s possible, I bring my aunt with me. I feel more confident because I can trust her to look out for me and ask anything I may have missed.
Bring your records with you.
Sometimes (well, most of the time) in our American healthcare system, it is difficult for doctors to get in touch and share files if they are on different networks. Come prepared!
I usually bring my folder with me that has all my records, so when needed, I can easily present it to my new doctor. It also makes the process much faster. There’s no need to wait for medical records to be sent back and forth.
If you see a healthcare professional not following sterile techniqueS, call them on it.
It’s always a dilemma when you find yourself in a situation when you know a healthcare professional isn’t following a standard procedure. You know they are the professional and you should trust them. At the same time, you have a lot of experience in dealing with your condition, and you know when something isn’t up to snuff.
You can be nice about it, and say something like, “Excuse me, would you mind taking 15 seconds to wash your hands before you continue.”
Bring your med list.
Always keep your med list with you because you never know when you might need them.
For me, I pull up the Medisafe app or show them my CVS app since my meds are frequently changing.
Remember that you are the Customer.
We often forget that we are the customers. Just like in any industry, the customer has the right to demand the best possible service. If you feel like your needs are not being met, you have the right to take your business elsewhere.
Do you have tips on how to speak up for your health?
Do you want to join our community and talk more about your tips and experiences in dealing with healthcare professionals? Join us on Friends in the Fight Facebook Group.