Being a patient takes work and dedication. Depending on our health status, it can feel like a part-time to full-time job. It is a constant learning process and important to find a balance between our health challenges and everything else in life. We don’t want to get consumed by our appointments, our medical tasks and how we feel, but rather try to lead the best quality of life despite what we are going through. I’ve been a patient since I was a child and over the years, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge on how to cope with health issues and be a great patient advocate for myself and others. Here are a few tips that have helped me along the way:
1) Be an active participant in your health. Make sure you know all of the medicines you take and why you take them. It’s best to carry a list of all of your meds with you. When in the hospital, pay attention to what nurses or doctors are doing and/or giving you and why. Stay organized, as you have a lot to keep track of with medicine, doctor appointments, health information, medical bills, etc. Be empowered by learning all you can about your disease and taking an active role in your health.
2) Speak up. Trust your gut – you know your body and health best. If you aren’t feeling well, speak up and share with your doctors what is going on. I recently had to speak up following a procedure. I was admitted to the hospital and was already overdue for my afternoon transplant meds. It was going to be hours until I’d receive them from the hospital pharmacy, so I told the nurse that I had my own meds and was going to take them. After voicing my opinion and the importance of me taking my meds on time, I got the approval from the charge nurse. Remember that you are in control of your health.
3) It is ok to ask for help. This can be a challenge when we go from being completely healthy to sick and your sense of normality changes. Our loved ones want to help, so don’t be afraid to ask for it. Having someone go to appointments with you is of great value, too. Welcome support because it is helpful and feels good to have someone with you.
4) Be kind to yourself. We go through so much mentally and physically. Try not to be too hard on yourself and take time to relax and do something enjoyable in the midst of everything.
5) Get involved. Meet others who are going through the same thing as you. Knowing you are not alone is invaluable. It is also rewarding to share your story and knowledge to help others along their journey. It helps give purpose to all you are enduring. Did you know the PKD Foundation has local PKD Chapters that offer guidance and support? Get connected with your local Chapter!
These are just a few tips that help empower me to be the best patient and lead a positive journey as a PKD patient. I hope they help empower you, too.
What are some of your tips on being a great patient advocate?