Patience, Persistence, and Your Health

Many things are available on demand these days, such as movies, TV shows, e-books, shopping, and information.  Googling is now a verb, with information only a search away.  The internet has become one big on-demand delivery system.  On-demand content is quite useful.  But sometimes we don’tfind a solution instantly.  One area where we frequently don’t get instant solutions is our health.  It might be challenging for doctors to diagnose you, and even with the right diagnosis made, finding the right treatment options usually takes time.

The human body is complex.  Various body parts and systems work together for us to function.  With all the complexities of the human body, not to mention the human brain, it’s no wonder that medical and psychological specialties have developed.  It is difficult for one person or group to know everything.  Your primary care physician is the first person you should contact about troubling symptoms.  They seek to help you to the best of their ability, but sometimes, two heads (or three) are better than one.

A medical referral is a written order from your primary care doctor for you to see a specialist for a specific medical service.  Being referred to a specialist can feel intimidating.  The first thing to check is how your insurance company handles referrals.  Insurance companies typically have an authorization process before anyone can see a specialist, and many insurance plans will only authorize consultations with contracted providers.

Make sure you ask whether your doctor’s office will contact the specialist or whether you need to contact them.  I was once referred to a dermatologist and I couldn’t remember the name when I got home.  The doctor’s office didn’t arrange the appointment and neither did I, so I didn’t see that dermatologist.  Your doctor’s office should make sure the specialist is aware of all your medical records, lab results, and relevant treatment information.  Double check that they have done that before you go to the specialist.

Getting in to see a specialist, particularly for non-emergencies, can take a long time.  To make the most of your visit, keep track of your symptoms daily.  Your own records of how you’ve been feeling and when you felt that way may reveal triggers that could help the specialist prescribe treatments.  Knowing what you’ve already tried avoids duplication and wasted effort.  As with any physician, ask questions and make sure you understand what to do. 

After you leave the specialist’s office, that’s where the patience comes in.  It is up to you whether to implement the recommendations or treatments given.  Even when you’re excited to try what they recommend, it usually takes time to see results.  After I went in to have my AFOs adjusted, I had to try them for two weeks, monitoring my pain and redness, before deciding whether to go in again.  It has taken over a year, and several appointments, to get them right.  Health problems may not be solved as quickly as you can grab an on-demand movie or do an internet search, but learning patience and persistence is useful too.

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