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Being Your Own (or Your Child’s) Health Care Advocate

Being your own (or your child’s) health care advocate

The health care system is a very confusing one for many patients to manage and understand. Something is wrong, where do I start? What type of doctor or therapist should I see? Do I need to go to the hospital? Whose advice do I follow?

I like to remind my patients that every doctor has these things:

1. Their specific education
2. Their specific experiences, knowledge and expertise
3. Their specific doctor “toolbox”
4. Their specific opinions
5. Their level of open mindedness to other toolboxes and options

The belief that “my doctor told me, so it has to be true” that many of our grandparents and maybe even parents believed needs to be challenged. If you happen to go to a doctor whose education, experience, toolbox and opinions all match up with exactly what is going on, awesome, but that is not the case many times. While Dr. Google can be a dangerous slippery slope, I have had patients finally come into my office after doing their own research that honestly know more about their or their child’s condition than their own doctor.

As a chiropractor, I see this all the time. All. The. Time. Here is what my patients have been told by their doctor:

“It will just go away with time.”

“It is in your head.”

“There is nothing that can be done.”

“You are just going to have to get used to it.”

“He is faking it.”

These are all direct quotes from patients of mine before they found relief with chiropractic care at my office. If you go back to the 5 things doctors have that I mentioned above, in each of these cases, there was a break down in at least one of them. It could be the doctor never learned something about the human body or didn’t have the right training or experience. It could be they weren’t open minded to other treatments that they may not have ever truly researched or investigated.

So, where does that leave you, the patient?

You are sometimes left on your own, not sure where to turn. You know something is wrong. Your mom gut says there is more going on. You know this is not just in your head.

This isn’t an anti–medical doctor thing, this is a find the right doctor thing. Find a primary doctor or pediatrician that truly listens, has time to answer your questions and is open to other toolboxes. As a doctor, I am very aware that I don’t know all the answers. I can’t help everyone with everything. You will hear me say over and over, “this really isn’t my area of expertise, but I know someone that I can refer you to!” I challenge you to do a little more digging because there are many options out there for you to try.

You are wiser and know more about your own body and your child’s than you know. Listen to your gut. Don’t take “there is nothing that can be done” or “they will grow out of it” as the final say if it doesn’t feel right to you. Keep searching, keep researching, ask your friends and families what has helped them. You and your family will be healthier and happier for it.

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