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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Patient Advocacy

Health is not something we should ever take for granted. I have seen very ill people in my family and in my general surroundings. One thing I truly value is my health, although sometimes it seems very fragile. One lesson I have learned through all of my experiences with health and hospitals is, understand your diagnosis. Understand, not know what the doctor said, but actually understand it. Ask questions until you do, no matter how long it takes, or how many different ways you have to ask the question.

From many medical, social studies it is determined that certain age groups, races and genders are the ones least likely to not only seek health care, but to ask questions and even to seek out a second opinion. Older generations tend to see physicians they have a standing relationship with as the one and only answer. This can be a death sentence.  Additionally, women tend to be more likely to take care of their families rather than themselves.  And finally, minorities are the highest group that will postpone seeing a doctor. By postponing a visit when they initially feel something is not right, they miss receiving a potentially life-saving early diagnosis.  There are of course cultural dynamics that I am not bringing up here just yet because this is more or less a summary of my years of not only personal experience while working at a hospital with patients, but research related to my hobby, patient advocacy.

I implore you as you read this… take your own symptoms seriously and encourage your family members to do the same. Once you get yourself to go to the doctor, ask questions until you understand. If you think you may not be following, ask to reschedule a consultation and take someone with you. I attend my mother’s appointments periodically just to make sure there is a “second ear” in the room. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.  Your physician should NOT mind.  I will recommend this (with a heavy breath), please be sensitive to your appointment time, and if you have many questions that are not immediate to your care, it might be better to schedule a consultation time.  That is not to say walk out of the office not knowing how to take a prescription later that night or what follow-up tests to schedule.  But, if there are dietary changes, or habits then it is probably best to schedule another appointment.

Happy health to all.
Windy City Diva

Allergies as a Gateway

You may have noticed that I am hyper focused on health the last several days. It could be because of my migraine or my overall “icky” health this past month.

A month or so ago my allergies went beyond the reach of my Allegra and turned into something ugly. I had to really crank the allergy medicines, water and all of the other recommended treatments to survive the symptoms. According to multiple reports nationally, this season of spring allergies has been one of the worst with the early rains.1 Somehow knowing that does not make it any easier, or does it?

It seems that allergies can weaken your immune system which can allow a virus to attack, or you come in contact with a virus and simply treat it as if it were allergies. I apparently just experienced such a perfect storm; which then set off torrent of headaches, lung pain (from the coughing and post nasal drip) irritating my asthma, migraines, etc.  You see where I am going with this. Allergies can be a gateway irritant to weaken your system and allow other ailments to pile on or rear their ugly heads.  This was new information to me, so I thought I would share it.

I thought I was taking care of my allergies but apparently when the allergy season hits, whatever yours is, it would behoove you to tightly manage and be proactive with your allergy symptoms.  I recently found an interesting Website that provides updates by location. www.pollenlibrary.com I hope this helps someone, anyone.  This probably falls in my patient awareness category.

~Windy City Diva

Friday, June 4, 2010

Migraines... An Experience...

Migraines - What do I do with them?

I have a migraine today. When the pain started, it was sudden and out of the blue. I had a mild one last night, but I seemed to have slept it off when I finally got up this morning. It had been a rocky night but it all worked.
So earlier today... I was going about my day normally, working on my computer. I was placing a Mary Kay order on line and BAM there it was! Blinding pain across my face like someone hit me in it with a blunt object. Oh and there is the other component… the sharp, tightening pain shooting up into my skull along the back of the neck. Oh yes, this is a migraine. The computer screen is bright, too bright, that confirms that it is a migraine. I think holding my face will work. I think my brain is trying to escape. I don’t know where it’s trying to go, but it certainly is making a break for it and taking my eyeballs with it. Meds, I need meds and wait, I have to finish what I’m doing. Oh no! Bright computer screen, bad bright computer screen! I wish I could see it well enough to turn it down. That is not going to happen. Meds, hot tea, darkness, quiet, power nap… that is the prescription. If it wasn’t 4:30 in the afternoon I would just go to bed.
So where do migraines come from? Some people say it’s hereditary, if it is in your family you are doomed. Okay, but then what makes them strike? There timing seems to be random. I have had migraines since I was a teenager. They seem to have interesting triggers like flashing lights from a camera, or a light reflecting off of a mirror, or oh better! Those new halogen lights on cars really hurt especially at night with foggy conditions. The other trigger, the main trigger is stress. So, now that I am awake and it feels a little better, not completely relieved, but certainly better, writing will have to help relieve some stress. If I could walk without wondering why the world is shaking, I might exercise a bit. But alas, sitting in my bed writing, er typing will have to suffice.

Windy City Diva