Part II: Your Health Care Team and Treatment Regimen
Chapter 9: Your Role On Your Health Care Team
Optimal health care can be achieved only when patients are educated about their health and patients and physicians work together as treatment partners in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
It’s critical that we be active members of our health care teams. Those of us with chronic headaches and Migraine Disease need to be able to make basic treatment decisions when we have a headache or Migraine. We need to decide what medication to take and when to take it. It’s just not possible to call our doctors each time. Especially with Migraine, if we educate ourselves about the whole disease, we can often notice signs of an impending attack and be prepared to take medication early enough to avoid a full blown, debilitating episode.
We’re actually fortunate to be living when we are. There is more information available today than ever before, partly because of the Internet. Where I live, the library doesn’t have medical journals, and books on medical topics tend to be few and hardly new. The book stores here don’t have many choices either. That made my sources of information very limited until I got Internet access. Of course, when you surf the Internet for information, you do have to be particular about the sites you trust. That takes a while to figure out, but it’s worth it. We now have instant access to governmental sites such as the National Institute of Health, nonprofit organizations founded for patient education and advocacy, sites to access medical journals, and other excellent sites brimming with helpful information. We also have the wonderful online book stores where we can find just about any book we might desire.
Don’t let anyone fool you. Knowledge is power, and lack of knowledge is one reason people have felt so powerless against their health issues in the past. Even people in my parents’ generation would never have thought to ask their doctors questions. They went to the doctor, then did or didn’t do what the doctor said to do. They took their medications without thinking to ask about possible side effects. They didn’t ask what they could do for themselves to improve their condition. Most of all, it would have taken a great deal for them to ever doubt a doctor. The first time I fired a doctor for telling me my Migraines were a “female thing” I’d have to live with, my mother was shocked. What did I think I was doing? He was a doctor, so he knew what he was taking about; what did I know about medicine?