Today was Wellness Wednesday. I spent the day at my orthodontist, my dentist, my primary care physician, and getting bloodwork done. Sometimes you just need to take the entire day off and handle your business, and that’s what I did today.
The unbelievable thing was that I left each appointment feeling so happy. Not necessarily happy because I received good news and glowing feedback. But happy because I felt like I received the care I deserved, and that I got the advice and feedback that made sense and felt appropriate. I felt confident in my squad. And that has not always been the case for me. It’s been a long road to get here, but I absolutely love my health care team!
And really, shouldn’t everyone love their health care team?? Shouldn’t you feel confident that you are receiving the best care and advice? Shouldn’t you feel like the service you receive is the best and most appropriate for you? Shouldn’t you have a team that listens to your concerns, and takes them into consideration?
Well–I feel that those things are important. So here is my advice to you after my appointments today.
1) Schedule that appointment. You know the one. The one about that thing that you been meaning to schedule but just haven’t yet because of some excuse that truly isn’t valid. So do that and do it now.
2) Research your doctors. A lot of doctors have profiles on their various hospital or medical group websites. Learn what their qualifications are, what their specialties are, and what it is about their niche that they love.
3) Ask for options. Many times your doctor will tell you what they feel is the best answer or their chosen course of action. Do not be afraid to ask if there are other options. I have had issues with fibroids and irregular, extremely heavy periods for most of my adult life. They have been debilitating, painful, and awful. I have had a doctor tell me that there was nothing that could be done about it. By just asking “is there another option?” I was told about other alternatives that my doctor apparently had no intention of discussing with me. I did independent research, asked even more follow-up questions, and wound up going with a far less invasive procedure than what was originally suggested.
4) Look for a team that collaborates. My dentist and my ortho are in the same office. My dentist noticed some issues with a tooth, and I asked him for the options that were available to deal with the issue. He gave me three options, and I picked the one that felt most appropriate for me. As I was wrapping up at the front desk, he and my ortho had an impromptu meeting as they looked over my files. He told her what his thoughts were regarding an action plan. Together they had a meeting of the minds as I stood by and looked on. He said I’m thinking about doing x, and she said did you think about y…and they went back and forth feeding off of each other’s thoughts and ideas. And by the end of it, a whole new suggestion was presented, one that was much better than what I had initially settled on. It was awesome, and the solution will ultimately solve another issue that wasn’t even part of the original picture! It will be a win-win for me in the end, and that excited me!
5) Ask ALL of your questions. COVID honestly had me going to the doctor less than usual. Things that I may have made an appointment for in the past got put off over the last year if they weren’t mission critical. Today when I went to see my primary care physician, I asked about EVERY bump, scrape, and flutter I’d noticed over the last year while I had her attention. And let me tell you, it took so much weight off my chest, that I felt like I was floating when I left. One example– I noticed an odd patch of skin a while back. And your girl has a complete fear of skin cancer. I’m scared that some small spot that I’ll blow off as a mole or a bump will ultimately be undetected skin cancer that will grow rapidly and kill me quickly…when I could have just asked my doctor about it and had it treated. So I noticed a patch of skin on my leg a while back, and I’ve blown off asking about it. It hadn’t grown, it didn’t change much in any way, but in the back of my mind I kept wondering if it was cancer. Today I just had to know what my doctor thought about it, even though it wasn’t what I originally went in for. She took a picture of it, sent it to the dermatology department AND received a response WHILE I SAT THERE! Nothing to be concerned about. Whew!
6) Don’t be afraid to change insurances. I know researching and pricing out doctors can be an entire pain in the ass. Open enrollment comes around each year, and I know it is easier to stick with what you already have in place than it is to look through books and websites pricing out health plans. Quite honestly, it sucks. Sticking with the devil you know feels like the better option to doing research. I get it. But you could find something so much better. Case in point. A few years ago, I knew I wanted braces. Adult orthodontia still wasn’t really covered by most insurance plans. But some insurance plans were starting to cover them at least partially. And some were covering the expenses after you’d been enrolled in their plan for a year. Taking the time to do some research led me to a plan that covered adult ortho at 50% AND didn’t require a waiting period for the coverage. So I enrolled in that plan and got my braces! Without finding that plan, I may still not have been able to fit braces into my budget. And that would be a shame.
7) And don’t be afraid to change doctors. Listen…don’t let the fact that you’ve been with a doctor forever, or the fact that they have your files keep you from looking for another doctor. You don’t owe your doctor anything, and files can be transferred. There are so many doctors out there. You don’t not have to be stuck with one that doesn’t fit your needs. If there is something you don’t like about your physician, your dentist, or your specialist, FIND ANOTHER ONE. Establishing a relationship with someone who fits your needs will bring a joy that is hard to explain. You deserve good care. Do not feel bad for settling for anything less.
In a kind of unrelated matter, I would like to brag about my all black, #HBCU educated medical squad!!! Today I visited my Ortho (#howarduniversity educated), my dentist (#howarduniversity educated),and my primary doctor (#hamptonuniversity educated)…yes it was a full day!!!
It was not intentional that my medical team is all black however, I have had many many many many many many doctors and I have felt a lot of bad ways about them for a wide array of reasons, and I kept searching until I found doctors that I felt comfortable with, that were professional, and that genuinely listened to me. They just happen to be all black.
So my message is this– DO NOT settle for ANY doctor that does not meet your needs EVER!!!! I have had back issues, fertility issues, blood pressure issues, cholesterol issues, heart palpitations, and lawd, these teeth!!! I have been in so many chairs and offices and have been disappointed so many times. I have been misdiagnosed and mistreated. I have been in tears, I have prayed, I have written letters, I have asked for guidance. And today, after years of effort and research, I left all my appointments joyous, ready to make action plans, and ready to work on areas of concern.
Find your squad! Change insurances. Look up new doctors. Challenge their final decisions. Speak to people around you. Ask for referrals.
Staying on top of your health requires YOUR active participation.
Today, my doctor and I laughed because we have emailed SO MANY TIMES over the past year, but today was the first time we met. And it was like we knew each other for years. Find you one like that!
DO. NOT. SETTLE.!!!
Do you have advice for assembling the perfect medical team? I’d love to hear it!
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