Have you ever felt overwhelmed about a medical decision? Your healthcare provider gives you a brief explanation of the test results and tells you that you have a particular diagnosis. Then they recommend that this medication or procedure can help you to manage that condition. You ask about side effects and you get a brief explanation about nausea, fatigue, insomnia, or whatever the common side effects are. You ask how long you’ll have to take this medication and they tell you “indefinitely” or “you’ll need to take this for the rest of your life.” They write you a prescription and now the ball is in your court. You have to decide whether you’ll pick up the medication from the pharmacy, and if you do pick it up, you have to decide whether you’ll start to use it. And if you decide to start using it, you must keep making that decision every day or several times per day, every week, every month, or however often you need to use it. How do you make these decisions after a 15-minute conversation?
Personally, I’ve been on both sides of this conversation. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012. I was fortunate to have landed in a neurology practice where they did answer all of the questions. I felt that my neurologist and I were on the same team and although he presented me with an overwhelming number of options, I felt that he explained enough about each option to make a decision that was right for me. As a nurse practitioner, I do this in my clinic practice.
The difficult part of being on the healthcare provider side of the conversation is knowing when a patient will be on a particular treatment for the rest of their lives. As a patient, they have the power to decide whether they’ll participate in that treatment. I neither have, nor want the power to make that decision for my patients. I want to partner with them and support them in whatever decision they make. I also want them to show them the buffet of options they have for self-managing their condition with nutrition, physical activity, stress management, and rest. These things are just as important as any medication or procedure.
We are in a society that expects quick and easy fixes to complex problems. A pill or procedure sounds quick and easy until you actually experience it. At the same time, it’s equally quick and easy to not treat the condition for which you were offered the pill or procedure. So, what if you do nothing? What if you decide, “I’m not going to treat this”? Will the thing get worse? Will the thing go away on its own? Will it stay the same? And do you feel as though you know enough to make the decision to not treat a problem? If not, do you think your healthcare provider will give you the time you need to understand everything so that you can make this decision?
If not, I would love to work with you and give you time to have the conversation that your healthcare provider cannot or will not give you. Let’s discuss your diagnosis and how you were feeling. Let’s look at lab results and scans. Let’s go over your medication list. Let’s discuss your options and how they will affect you. Let’s also explore aspects of your life that you can improve through small changes. Let’s squelch this feeling of overwhelm together. Sign up for a one-on-one medical review session. If you’re the caretaker for an adult or child with complex healthcare needs, this may be exactly what you need to gain a clear understanding of how best to care for your loved one. If you’re making decisions for yourself or your loved one, you don’t have to go it alone. Schedule yourself for a 1-on-1 Medical Review Session today.