Where is your voice?

My daughter is spending spring break with her biological father in another state. I will not bore you with the 7 years of co-parenting with an out of state former spouse. The focus today is on the need to be your own advocate. Where is your voice?

My 16 year old daughter used to have asthma. She now only has problems if she is ill. Over two weeks ago she developed a chest cold and we knew where it was heading. A quick run to urgent care and she was told it was a horrid virus hitting kids in the area and not to worry as it could take some time to get over. A week later she left her home state to see her dad.  Where was her voice during the urgent care appointment? This happens every year…. well she is only 16 and the doctor knows best right?

Today her dad took her to a clinic in a major retail store as she was still sick and now her ears hurt. You guessed it, an ear infection. However, after listening to her chest the provider recommended a visit with a traditional doctor for a chest X-ray. Where was her voice? Did she tell the provider that this is common for her once a year? Did she advocate her asthma action plan?

Off she goes to the family physician. This provider proceeded to give her three nebulizer treatments. You see it correctly, 3!!! Then the provider sends her to the local ER explaining that she needs to be seen right away. Again, where is her voice? Did she advocate for herself and explain her action plan?

Next to the ER at the doctor’s recommendation, where the ER staff finds it funny that she is at the ER when she is oxygenating just fine and is not wheezy. The ER physician provides her with a steroid dose pack, an antibiotic and rescue inhaler. Beautiful! Did she use her voice? Was she able to share her action plan? No. The provider explained it was the common solution for illness induced asthma.

Three provider offices, three appointments and she is in the same place she would have been had she been able to advocate for herself. Did I fail her by not teaching her the confidence to self advocate? Did her father fail her by not supporting her and suggesting she share her action plan? Did the providers fail her by not asking if this had happened before and what was her action plan?

Moral of the story? Self advocacy is a skill our society as a whole needs to gain. Our medical system is broken, we must take control of our own care. We must work to break the social assumption that it is wrong to question a provider.

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