Finding balance is often difficult. I see it in the workaholics, the parents of kids involved in competitive sports, and the enmeshed moms that have no identity beyond their kids. Balance, something we all strive to achieve, financial balance between retirement goals and lifestyle. Balance between being too strict and too soft. There is balance challenges everywhere I look. Interestingly, I find myself in a different kind of balance challenge. The internal pull between mom, executive, wife and self. How do you achieve this balance. It is like a perfectly positioned rock teetering on the edge of a cliff. Too much time away working, family suffers, too many kids activities and no one gets to where they need to be. Balance, is it ever achieved?
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.
Where were you ten years ago? Sometimes looking back gives the best picture of where you are going. Looking at life’s obstacles and changes this platform seeks to share perspective and provoke thought. Let’s talk about the reality of chronic pain. Experiencing a neurological disease since age 21, more than half of my life has been spent fighting pain. Reality is, there is no easy answer. I can assure you, the answer is not found in taking prescriptions for the rest of your life. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly medical conditions warranting medications. However, I would encourage the questions be posed to the physician, what is the longterm plan?
Let me share with you my story….
Going back to 1998, after strange tingling and numbness I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Yes it was a scary conversation, but at the same time it was a great relief to understand what was really going on to explain all the “strange” symptoms. As the years progressed, so did the available prescription “solutions.” Burning sensation, boom there is a prescription for that, can’t sleep… yep a prescription for that… stabbing pain… you guessed it there is a prescription for that also. The cycle continued, the cost for these prescriptions increased and the quality of life spiraled down.
Then in 2017, a decision was made to take control of my life. I found a way of life that is anti-inflammatory. What does this mean? Well that is for another post, but the point is with diet alone I have taken control. I still have MS, but I am off all pain and sleep medications. WHY didn’t the medical community talk to me about these options? Why is the first response to write a prescription?
For today, that is the question, WHY are you where you are and what is your future plan?