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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Being Empowered

I think it's important for people with chronic illness to feel empowered, especially over their own care. That's why I write about how to deal with dippy doctors and the beaurocratic nonsense that their offices put us through. The waiting. The idiotic statements. The cursory visits and assinine diagnoses. All of these things make you feel so powerless. We don't need to feel more powerless than we already do. It's hard enough having a disease that we have no control over and are powerless against. We don't need that kind of treatment, and, more importantly, we don't need to put up with that kind of treatment from any of our caregivers.

I've been thinking about how being "Equal to the task" would apply to that. Really, that means that we are empowered to manage our own medical care. When a doctor wants us to try a med that we've already tried and know it doesn't work for us, we need to stand up for ourselves and say no. Anything that makes us uncomfortable, we don't have to do. I mean, the doctor's not going to have to live with the consequences. We are.

Also, we should understand not only the method of treatment we are being advised to get, but also the reasoning behind it. I've had doctors get really annoyed when I've asked to see my charts, or for them to explain why they think I need to do such and such, or why they think it'll work. It's as if my opinion doesn't count. As if I should just follow the suggestions like a dumb sheep. I'm not a sheep, and I do want to know what's happening with my own body. I don't give a damn who's ego gets bruised. It's my body and I have the final say so about what happens with it.

I remember once when I went to see a pulmonologist. My GP wanted me to see him, because she wanted to see if I had asthma. Well, I guess I have a little, which I already knew. I always get it when I have bronchitis, which I had at the time. This pulmo wanted me to do a treatment on the v--something (I'll put it in when I remember what the equipment is called). I said that was fine as long as he does not use proventil, because it made me feel so weird when I had it before and made me dizzy. He assured me that they wouldn't. Well, guess what? He did and I had a very serious allergic reaction to it. I told them that I wanted to go downstairs to the hospital. I said, Take me to ER. They didn't. And, worse, they didn't do anything for me. The nurses wrapped me in a blanket, because my temp plumeted. They were super scared, but because a doctor told them not to take me downstairs, they didn't. Now, who should they have listened to? They're lucky I didn't die of anaphylactic shock! One nurse came in and "snuck" me some benadryl. How sad that she had to risk her job to help me. That helped enough that I could walk after a little bit and I took myself downstairs to the ER.

I learned a big lesson from that incident. No doctor will ever have that much power over me again. If I don't like the guy (or gal)'s attitude, I'm outty. I just wish more people would do that. Instead, we cower in awe of these guys who are just college graduates. It's not that special. All kinds of guys and gals graduated from college with masters and doctorates. It's no big deal, but they act like it is more important a job than teaching or anything else. I'm not saying that it's not a noble profession, and of course they serve a purpose in society that is important. But, that doesn't mean we have to let them walk all over us like we're doormats, just meekly believing that whatever they say is right. Bullshit!

So, I guess in a way, I have learned to be "equal to the task", and I'm sure I'll learn alot more about that by the time this is over--whenever that is.

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