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.

 

How to NOT Get Sick When You are in a Cold and Flu Mindfield

When everyone around you at work or at school is sick, it is so important to be proactive rather than reactive in keeping your immune system safe. This is especially important if you are affected by a condition that makes it more complicated for the body to heal from the cold and flu.

While there are a plethora of factors that go into what your immune system can handle (previous exposure to illness, gut health, and age, just to name a few), I would like to share my best advice of how I have avoided getting sick during this time of year for the past few years.

I feel proud of my cold and flu record for the last few years, I work with young students who, let’s be honest, are like landmines for germs during this time of year, so staying healthy is no easy feat.

Like I said before you must be proactive rather than reactive when avoiding getting sick like those around you. You are compromising your body if you’re not getting enough sleep, nutrition and exercise.

The single time that I have been sick in the past two years is after a week where I worked over 60 hours, got little sleep and was eating whatever was convenient. I didn’t listen to my body’s limits and for that I paid the price of getting a horrible cold two days before going on a vacation.

What I should have done:

First I know better than just to ignore nutrition, when I feel insanely busy with no hope of actually going home and cooking a healthy meal, my best trick is to visit the grocery store salad bar.

Sure it’s not economical to eat at a salad bar every night, but paying for the convenience of fruits and veggies will be worth it, when you don’t have to call into work or miss a big presentation. I love Whole Foods and Hy-Vee salad bar in particular. They both have a great selections of fruits and veggies and some pastas to satisfy your carb cravings.

The bottom line is getting sick is way more inconvenient than finding healthy food is.

I’m a huge proponent of juicing to get added nutrients into your diet, especially your vitamin C! If you don’t haven’t yet invested in a juicer, or you’re like me the week I got sick, and don’t have the time or energy to get your juicer out, buy pre made juices.

My favorite picks from Whole Foods are their Alternative Fuel cold pressed juice (with 540% of your daily value of Vitamin C), and the Eye Opener cold pressed juice (with 210% of D.V. of Vitamin C). These are my go-to’s if I start to feel a cold coming on or just need a healthy kick to get me going.

Finally although it’s tempting, especially for perfectionists, to say you can go, go, go 24/7, our bodies are inefficient when they have no rest.

I think that sleep is by far the most important thing you can give your body to avoid getting sick.

As someone who has been in school for a while… I can truly say staying up all night or an extra couple hours to try and study is never worth it. I have learned that an extra hour of sleep will help me more on the test.

Drinking all that caffeine and trying to stay up cramming is worthless. One, this will ruin the quality of any sleep that you do end up getting after cramming. Two, our brains are on overdrive trying to study for such an extended period and need to shut down before they can do us any good again.

Another piece of the staying healthy puzzle is stress.

Everyone knows that stress just wears on the body. Try a ten minute guided meditation, go for a quick walk, call your mom, just don’t let stress get the best of you! We know that in order to accomplish any health or wellness goal, like a weight-loss, stress will inhibit your success by increasing cortisol levels. So let’s deal with it head on before it gets in the way of health.

Advice Straight from the Doctor:

Any doctor will tell you to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. I do believe that you have to be diligent in this during cold and flu season. I keep my hand sanitizer right on my lunchbox for this purpose. As DJ Khaled would tell you this is MAJOR KEY.

Second major key alert straight from my husband’s doctor is DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE. This seems simple, but if you actually start thinking about this you will realize it’s more difficult than it sounds.

I hope everyone around you stays healthy this season, but if that’s not the case, be proactive!

Be proactive this cold and flu season,