I don’t usually go down this road but I really feel like we need to “talk” about this realistically. You need to know first of all that I am a Registered Nurse. I work in an Internal Medicine office here in Des Moines, Iowa. I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years working part-time in a variety of health care settings over the years. That said you should also know that over all I believe we Americans want quick fixes, in pretty much all of life. When it comes to our health it appears to me that we want a pill to fix what ails us and we want it to work immediately. I don’t agree with that philosophy. Why? It just doesn’t work. It’s that simple. While there is a time and a place for medication it is not every time and every place.
I like to help people feel better so they can live and enjoy their life. That’s why I do this blog. That’s why I am a nurse. That’s why I continue to get education in the medical field, counseling and the Bible. So today let me share a bit of practical advice from a clinic nurse currently working in our changing healthcare system.
The best thing you can do is pay attention to your own body. Note when you feel good and when you don’t. As you do that think about what you ate that day. Did you exercise? Did you drink water? Most men don’t like to “journal” but I challenge all of you to get a notebook or your IPad or whatever and keep track for a week. Sometimes for me it is as easy as writing on a calendar. Then notice the trends. What worked for you? You can make lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference in the way you feel. I’m talking about your energy level and your mental attitude.
When you do go to the doctor PLEASE take all your medications with you, including your vitamins and supplements. If you refuse to take them at least go through and write them all down including their strengths and how many you take in a day.(On a side note, keep a copy of this list in your wallet. Should an emergency arise the healthcare pros who are trying to help you can use it to assist in your emergency care) One of the most common hinderances to the doctor really helping you is not knowing what all you are taking, how strong it is and how you really take it. When the nurse asks about your medications don’t reply, “they’re all the same as last time.” We won’t know you added that vitamin or stopped the antibiotic because it upset your stomach. We also won’t know that even though the doctor said take 1 pill twice daily you are taking it only once a day. When the doctor does not have accurate medication information and you are not feeling well, he can not make productive adjustments.
While on the subject of medications I would suggest that you let the doctor pick the exact medication you need, not the TV. If something you see on TV seems like it would be helpful to you by all means ask your doctor about it but please don’t insist. Those commercials are designed to make you think you need it and that it can “fix” what ails you. I can’t tell you how many people are on medicine for high cholesterol. It’s a huge number. They are now beginning to see that high doses of these medications for long periods of time has it’s own set of problems. High cholesterol can be fixed by eating a low fat diet and regular exercise, but then who wants to do that?
If you are on medication for a chronic condition your doctor will require you to come to his office for a check up. Often these check up are every 4 months or 3 times a year. This is so they can be sure the medication your taking is still helping you and to monitor any possible side effects it may cause. If you don’t go they are not required to refill your medication. You have “hired” them to help take care of you. Let them. Ask them how often you need to come and then go to your appointment.
Lastly while we are on this nuts and bolts topic make sure your doctor’s office knows what pharmacy you are using. Do you use your mail order pharmacy for everything or just some things? Have you switched local pharmacies to get a discount or because your insurance covers better at a different one? No problem, just tell us! If you can no longer afford your medicine let your doctor’s office know. They may know of pharmaceutical companies or local programs that can help. Some doctor’s office still have samples that may be able to help you through a brief period of time. For the record, office samples are there for just such occasions or for a trial of a new medication, not to be your ongoing supply for life.
Healthcare in America is changing. More than once a week now when I get to work my boss hands me another paper with a new regulation, a change or a form we now need to implement. It’s a lot to keep up with but don’t get distracted with all of these changes. You need to focus on your own health and seek out the help you need. Your best ally is YOU!