Haha! Gotcha. You just HAD to know what the tough things were didn’t you?
Ten tips for tackling health issues should be the name of this post, but I liked the play on the letter T and the fact that someone would just have to know what ” things” I meant.
Anyway, in the last week two people have suggested that I write a post about what I have learned from being a professional/permanent patient. Its not something I ever thought of doing, but I’m going to give it a go.
Here are my 10 tips:
- It is totally and utterly pointless trying to pretend that something is not wrong. No amount of positive thinking will remove that lump. No amount of friendly advice will help you urinate better. No magic cure exists out of fairyland and if you think you’re in fairyland, I’m worried. If your brain is telling you something is wrong GO TO THE DOCTOR. A doctor is someone who has the letters M.D after their name and their MD stands for medical doctor. Everybody else is potentially a Major Dodo trying to make a quick buck. I don’t have a problem with some alternative therapies but in most cases, conventional medicine is the way to go.
- It is OK to do your homework on Google, but I will bet any amount of money that within minutes, you will have diagnosed yourself with a major and/or terminal illness. Google is great on facts, but clinical diagnosis (ie what the doctor sees in front of him/her) PLUS years of experience is what will form their diagnosis. If you march in and announce you have TB for them to fix, rest assured they will probably be remembering everything they know about psychiatric medicine at that point. Let the doctors diagnose you. Do NOT diagnose yourself.
- If you are worried about news you are going to receive TAKE SOMEBODY WITH YOU. I can not emphasis this highly enough. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I went into shock and could not remember anything that was told to me. Ask them to repeat what they have said, if you can talk. Otherwise unless your support person is also in shock, they might be able to help you remember when you leave the surgery.
- Last year, after a ten hour marathon on my daughter, the doctor rang at 11pm. Apart from the late hour, the first thing I latched onto was the happy tone in his voice. I have no idea what he said after my brain registered something was good and had to wait three more days for details. Put calls like this on speakerphone so between at least two of you, you can work out what he or she just said.
- Ask for copies of all pathology results and any other results of procedures and keep them in chronological order somewhere safe. This is especially important for insurance purposes and for medical history. If like me your medical history is extensive, you will forget something and your file will help. I have a plastic sleeve in my file for my prescriptions and if I am travelling, I put the whole file in my case and off I go. You may want to have a separate file for bills you have paid.
- If your GP sends you to a specialist, it is OK to ask for a second or third opinion if you are not overly happy with the first. You may not bond with the doctor. You may not be convinced of their expertise in the area of your problem. It is your call. Remember, in some cases time is urgent – be sensible. Taking months to find a doctor you like for an aggressive tumour removal is NOT a good idea. And remember, specialists often have waiting lists.
- ASK FOR A QUOTE from a specialist. Find out in advance what this is going to cost you. If you have private health cover (Australia), is there a gap for you to pay? I recently swapped from one specialist to another because the gap I had to pay after medicare and private health cover, was unbelievably high. It amounted to a whole week’s rent for my girls. Ask in advance when possible and let them know if you can’t afford them. I have heard stories of doctors who take just medicare and private health cover payments, when their patients have told them IN ADVANCE that they can’t afford the gap. If they don’t wipe the gap, discuss it with your GP and maybe swap to someone else.
- Many doctors now take bookings online so always check first if you are nervous about ringing up. If you have to ring up, be warned. Most medical receptionists sound like they did their training with the gestapo. In reality they are just barking at you because they are usually trying to organise the doctor’s schedule so he can see you and everyone else, pick up his kids and take a family holiday. Be super nice to all medical receptionists because they ALWAYS remember you, when you ring up in tears and need an appointment yesterday.
- If you are admitted to a public hospital ( again this is for Australia), you will inevitably be asked if you are a private health patient and if you would like to be admitted as one. The answer here is YES. This does not mean you will get a bill. It simply means that the government hospital can claim some money for themselves from your private health fund. You will not get any different treatment in a government hospital, to those who don’t have private health cover. You MIGHT however get a single room if available and a bag of toiletries. If you are really, really sick you will probably get these anyway, so no big deal.
- Private health cover does have its advantages. If you can afford it, you must look into it because some specialists do NOT operate in the government system. Oh and if people say you get better food in a private hospital, that’s rubbish. In my lengthy experience, both systems are either as good or as bad as each other…it usually depends on the chef who is rostered on. Again from my experience, if you have particularly odd eating requirements, it might be a good idea for someone to bring your food in. Oh and while we’re on the subject of food, I heard a story recently about an elderly patient in a brand spanking new hospital who had no idea that he needed to order food from the ipad near his bed. He didn’t even know what an ipad was. You guessed it – no food for 24 hours! Ask lots of questions when you go to hospital if you are the patient or family.
Till next time…xxx