Your Biggest Advocate in the American Health Care System
We always take health for granted when we have the luxury of not having to think about it. Personally I’ve really lucked out on my health. I didn’t take the best care of myself when I was younger, health is a top priority for me now. I’ve definitely adopted the mentality of making sacrifices and paying to be in good health now, rather than paying for health in the future i.e. disease, health care costs, and poor quality of life. This was one of the biggest shifts in my perspective that I have experienced in my 23 years of life.
Making health a top priority is not always easy, for me it took my husband being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes to realize how important health is. I constantly mention this in my blog posts, but I keep coming back to how central this is to my mindset. In order to keep the momentum of a healthy lifestyle going, I have to find enjoyment in it. Nobody really likes going home everyday and eating steamed broccoli, and brown rice, and logging 60 minutes on the boring treadmill. This is why we jazz things up and find passion in keeping our bodies healthy.
We all know, no matter how hard we try, things happen and humans are incredibly fragile. Doctors hold a wealth of knowledge but at the end of the day we have to take charge in our own health. When faced by crisis, we are our best advocate in the healthcare system. Sure our families are here to advocate for us when we physically can’t, and thank goodness they are. It really is the hardest thing in the world to see someone you are close to in pain or sick, no matter how minor. It can make the strongest people feel helpless.
When we are sick we go to the doctor, and sometimes the hospital. When I see that someone has to go to the hospital, even if I do not know them well, I immediately feel empathy. I want to disclaim that I don’t have anything against modern medicine. I really am just trying to advocate that we need to be involved 100% in our own health care, diagnoses, and treatment. In addition we do the same for our loved ones in their most vulnerable state.
According to a John Hopkins Study, medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States each year. In this study, medical error included “diagnostic errors, medical mistakes, and the absence of safety nets (that) could result in someone’s death”.
This study alone is alarming and urging to make sure you keep yourself knowledgeable about your health and your loved ones’ health. In addition, I could tell you personal anecdotes of being skeptical of doctor recommendations. One huge red flag to me was going to my husbands endocrinologist appointment. When the endocrinologist was inquiring about my husband’s blood sugar numbers and making suggestions, she did not ask one question about his diet. While diet isn’t a defining factor of blood sugar, it is undeniably a huge factor that cannot be ignored in this conversation. My mind was blown, and it made it really easy to dismiss everything she was saying. I really am a holistic person I guess when it comes to managing health.
Again I am forever listening to my mom, the RN, never leave anyone alone in a hospital.
Going back to my ever changing perspective on health and the healthcare system, another huge lesson is to never ignore a problem, or tell anyone they’re being a hypochondriac. I’ve regretfully done this before. Untreated problems get worse, and while there are hypochondriacs in this world, it’s not my place to tell anyone how they feel or should feel. This is a lesson I have learned, and if people really want to wasted their time and energy going to the doctor for a paper cut, power to ya!
I wish I had time to study the healthcare system, learn how to deal with insurance companies most effectively and how to find the most qualified doctors. I might be able to solve some of the biggest problems in America right now if I did.
One of my biggest fears in life is worrying about my loved ones health if it were to go wrong. I am really a natural caregiver and constantly worry about those around me. My husband relies on insulin to survive and I often feel helpless and at the mercy to the healthcare system in order to get the care and resources he needs. (FYI insulin is the 6th most expensive liquid in the world). Often one prescription requires multiple calls to the doctor, insurance company, and pharmacy.
I hope that over time I get better at navigating this system and I can pass some wisdom onto others that feel this same helplessness. When that time comes I promise to write about it on my blog!
Until then, let’s be the most involved person in our healthcare.