Advocating For Yourself to Your Healthcare Provider
This week I'm guest blogging on Midwest Midwife, run and operated by my good friend, Michaela Ward. If you aren't familiar with what a midwife does, you need to read her blog and do some research. It's pretty badass. You can find her here.
I wanted to talk about advocating for yourself to your healthcare professional and the importance of telling them the whole story, even if you're afraid of judgement. The second part to that is when a healthcare professional isn't listening. We'll talk about that too.
Let's start with being as honest as possible while speaking to your healthcare provider. I know what you're thinking--- why wouldn't I be honest? You might feel comfortable spilling your guts to your doctor, but some people aren't. It's uncomfortable sometimes to talk about health issues, especially if you believe that your ailment is your fault.
Some ways that you can make sure you are being as honest as possible:
Write down questions, concerns, or symptoms in lieu of your doctor's visit. That way, your appointment will be more catered to your specific needs.
Set up an online medical account. Some hospitals chains have online portals where all of your medical records will be updated and viewable by you. I highly recommend setting this up or at least keeping a log of your visits and the next steps you are given because appointments can be quick and full of information that could be lost if you aren't taking notes.
Don't lie about your health. Lying about whether you smoke or drink or workout or do drugs can only hurt you because the healthcare professional won't get the whole story. Therefore, they won't be able to properly assist you. It can be hard to be vulnerable, but laws like HIPAA protect patients and their confidentiality.
The second part is when your doctor isn't listening to you. This can be especially frustrating for women of color or larger women. In these two cases, many times doctor's will blame health issues on their lifestyles. This is not okay, and when this happens, it's important to do the following:
Find a new doctor.
Absolutely, 1000%, do not put up with your healthcare provider telling you that you are getting sick because you're overweight or because of the color of your skin. You'd be shocked at how often this happens-- but if you put up with it, you won't be able to get the answers you need.
At the end of the day, you are your strongest and best advocate. Stand up for yourself.