Your Best Advocate

Of course I’d like to be a better writer. For a while, as I try to be better, I’m going to at least try to be prolific. They say that if you write a lot, you have a much better chance that some of it will be good. If you write seldom (or not at all), none of it will be, so be writing. That’s my goal.


You have to be your own health care advocate. If you find that impossible, make one good choice – someone you trust to advocate for you. This is not a new revelation to me, but newly reinforced by my recent wellness checkup with my primary care office.

I’m somewhat of a rebel, offspring of a family that believed that 99% of what’s wrong with us heals itself if not aggravated by medicine. This mindset was pretty well in place in my high school years so I don’t know what made me choose nursing as a career. It was mostly that I was fascinated by how complex human anatomy, biology and physiology were, and because someone gave me “Cherry Ames, Student Nurse” for Christmas one year. Cherry was the medical world’s answer to Nancy Drew.

Nursing has given me an inside look into the strange reasons why some things are done the way they are. The reasons are many and complex. You can’t always figure them out. What’s more, sooner or later, what’s good for you is going to come into conflict with what’s good for someone else. It’s nice to know at that point if you have options and what they are.

The husband and I are at the age where we have more time to devote to our physical condition, and it’s a good thing being that it’s also the age where there’s some new thing going wrong every week. We are still moving around under our own steam and able to read so we are researching. I read to him in the evenings, after we walk, and we discuss health issues and diets, sleep, exercise, medicines – all of that.

Without going into too much detail in this post, suffice it to say that we see a lot of new research that flies in the face of traditional thought about these issues. It seems that what we’ve been doing traditionally for the last half century or so has created an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression. Oh, and Alzheimer’s dementia. Oh, and autism. Oh, and autoimmune disorders. And cancer. At some fundamental level, we are a very sick country.

Having decided to get smarter about simple things we could do to help ourselves avoid as much sickness as possible, we are starting with eating differently.

I was sitting with the PA who was doing my wellness questionnaire and telling him some of these things. I told him how I was limiting carbohydrates by cutting out most bread and sources of sugar. I mentioned ketogenic diet and how I’d lost ten pounds on it.  I told how it was a high fat, moderate protein, lo-carb diet, and that I was feeling pretty good overall. He nodded and appeared to be listening (how do I know what he’s thinking…). We talked about stress relief and I told him that I dispelled it by writing for my blog. Then he wrapped up the interview with “Okay, just keep doing what you’re doing and keep on that low fat diet.” Sigh.

Traditional advice is not always for everyone. Sometimes, it’s not even true or based on real evidence. I’m going to end this post in the same way I started it. You have to be your own health care advocate because no one doctor or health professional can concentrate on what’s good for you. You are it.

More to come on this and related subjects.

Blood pressure gradually creeping up – that’s what first caught my attention. Just sayin’…

Been putting it off…

doctors office

For the last six years I have not darkened the door of a doctor’s office, except on behalf of my employer. No check ups, no mammograms, no anything.  I suppose that is not the best example for a nurse to be giving, but honestly, I feel like I am probably safer and healthier for it.  These days it’s almost like doctors feel they must intervene in some way, usually a pill of some kind, or you wouldn’t be coming to them. And many of their interventions come with weird side effects and complications that end up being worse than what you started with.  So I’ve been trying to stay away from those places sick people go (waiting rooms, yuck!).  There is also the poor excuse of being busy, which I have been, oh and yes, I was also mad at my doctor.  When I get poison ivy and turn into a fiery itching, oozing mess and need a prednisone pack to save my life I don’t like being told that they can’t find 10 minutes somewhere in the schedule to write me a scrip. Go to a walk-in clinic? No, I’m thinking – why bother having a family physician if that’s what they’re going to tell me?

But there are some things that need checking up on occasionally, especially since they are in my family medical history. It is time. Actually it is past time, but I would have recognized if anything urgent had come up, right? ’cause I’m a nurse… .

Last month I laboriously went through the process of hunting up a new doctor.  Laborious because I can’t just pick any doctor.  He or she has to be younger than me so I don’t have to worry about them dying before I do and not being around when I need them. However, that’s not the biggest problem since almost everyone still working is younger than me.  Biggest problem is whether or not they are still accepting new patients.  I will confess that I spent a bit of time looking for someone whose picture I liked (cause I have to look at them, right?) and whose name I liked (some names sound more dangerous than others… Filesticker? what’s with that? sounds dangerous.).  And when I narrowed it down to two possibles, I called and neither one of them were accepting anyone new.

I needed a different process.  I started calling offices alphabetically and asking if they took new patients.  I ended up with Dr. Kassabov.  I don’t know what to think of that name but at least I’m not afraid of it.  Bring on the needles, the scopes, the x-rays.  It’s June and I want to get this over with. Just sayin’…