Receiving the news that you have an illness is disorienting. It’s as if you’ve been dropped in the middle of the ocean without any navigation tools and expected to reach shore safely. Doctor’s often forget that they may have given the diagnosis hundreds of times, but you’re receiving it for the first time. The diagnosis results in shock, fear and bewilderment throwing you off balance. It’s important to come up with a plan to find the shore and regain your health.
Have a Destination
Navigation requires that you have a destination. Everyone’s destination to health is different so there are certain things to consider before choosing a destination. Where are you in the disease process? Knowing the state or stage of your illness will be the jumping off point for many decisions related to your treatment plan. It’s important to understand that although everyone would like their destination to be a complete restoration of health; it’s not a reality for all diseases at this time. What does that mean? It means that the destination may be halting disease progression, maintaining muscle mass or maintaining independence. When you are able to state the destination clearly you can select actions that support the journey.
Keep Everyone in the Loop
We have seen an increase in the number and effectiveness of medical technology and pharmaceuticals. Interestingly over the past ten years there has been an increase in interest, knowledge and efficacy of allied health professionals and the treatments they offer. If you want to augment your medical regimen with other modalities it’s imperative that all providers know who is included on your healthcare team. For instance, although massage therapy feels great, it may be contraindicated for certain illnesses. This is one example of opening up dialogues with your healthcare team about all intended treatment strategies. Acupuncture has increased in popularity and understanding within world of allopathic medicine. Many utilize acupuncture to alleviate symptoms or improve immune function.
When charting your course to wellness it’s crucial that you periodically stop and orient yourself to the current status of your health. You don’t want to keep expending effort, energy and money on a treatment that isn’t working. Taking time to assess outcomes of your medical decisions empowers you to change direction, add new therapies or research avenues such as clinical trials. Navigating your course to wellness requires that you remain flexible and open to possibility.
An important factor for staying on course is to constantly acquire information. As you obtain new information you are more likely to engage your medical team with questions keeping both of you up-to-date on your progress. Keeping an open line of communication with your healthcare team gives you the fuel you’ll need to keep on the journey. Having regular contact with your medical team keeps you in the foreground of their thoughts, and that’s where you want to be front and center. As new opportunities develop for treatments, studies, etc you want your medical team to think of you first and foremost. Yes it’s true that you are not their only patient, but you don’t want them to forget about you until they see your name on their appointment schedule.
Remember that at every step of the journey, you are the captain of the ship. Having the right and sufficient information will provide you with the courage and assertiveness you desire to get your needs met. Following an illness diagnosis it may seem like you’re lost at sea, but there are many life preservers available if you seek them out and use them!