Become Your Own Health Advocate: Your Life Depends on It!

The Ideal Doctor Checklist

Perhaps the time has come when we can no longer go to doctors expecting them to have all of the answers to heal our physical problems, especially the diseases that occur as a result of aging and lifestyle choices. When doctors spend 12 minutes with each patient and have insurance companies dictate the standard of care, medicine becomes an assembly line and treating the individual is almost impossible.

Conventional doctors are also limited because they understand very little, if anything, about the underlying causes of an illness and even less about natural treatment approaches for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and more. This situation is mobilizing more patients to participate in their treatment and rely more on their intuition. Resources—information, products, services and experts—are available if people are willing to discover what eliminates illness while promoting wellness. Once you have done your research, inner guidance can be a great help in making wise treatment choices.

My atrial fibrillation (AFib) challenge this past year taught me about the current medical system and forced me to take charge of healing my body and life. Once again, I used the best of both worlds—conventional and alternative medicine—and found my way back to optimal health. The journey was difficult and served as another great learning experience.

During the first three months of my illness, I did everything the doctors told me to do. I used three different medications twice a day to control my irregular heartbeats and prevent a stroke but the drugs did not stabilize the AFib condition. While on the medications, I could not walk through a grocery store, do much around the house, receive bodywork treatments or do yoga without my heart constricting and possibly becoming irregular. Even with a restricted, sedentary lifestyle, my heart seemed to have a mind of its own and would go out of rhythm every couple of days.

After three months, I finally realized the medications were making the situation worse. Once I understood the situation more clearly, I got permission from my cardiologist to reduce the dosage on one of my medications. I monitored my symptoms carefully, and things started to improve. I was able to complete some work related responsibilities, visit with family in Orlando and get pushed in a wheelchair at Disney World. I consulted with a new integrative doctor and continued with my naturopath during this time. I learned that I had to bump up my intake of potassium and magnesium rich foods, eat more salt and drink more water.

Six months after the onset of AFib, I had an ablation surgical procedure. Three different doctors, including my cardiologist, recommended that I not have the ablation, and I told them that I did not have a choice because I had no quality of life. (They were not hearing me.) The surgery was a huge success. Better yet, the surgeon listened to me about wanting to come off all drugs. Five months post surgery, I am weaning myself from the medications and slowly getting back to a healthy lifestyle. He also told me that he removed the AFib activity but not the underlying cause. (I respected him even more.) His statement got my attention. I am exploring the possible causes on my own. With help from the experts and my intuition, I will do my part to prevent a recurrence.

Based on my latest experience with a life-threatening illness, I developed this checklist for the ideal doctor I want on my healing team. He or she:

  • is knowledgeable about my condition and has a track record of success
  • listens to me when I describe my symptoms and possible causes
  • admits what he or she does not know
  • is willing to modify my medication or supplements based on my body’s needs
  • explains the reasons for his or her recommendation and the likely benefits—statistics are helpful when appropriate
  • encourages, not discourages, me to make lifestyle changes that promote my health
  • asks me about the stress in my life and encourages me to manage it better

When healthcare providers participate with you on your healing journey, you stay empowered, get the best possible care and are more likely to have outstanding results. No one cares more about your health than you do. Your helpers play an important role in the process but ultimately you are in charge of your body and quality of life. When you approach your doctors with respect, courtesy and appropriate questions, you improve your chances of getting what you need in order to live well longer. If that is not happening, it may be time to find another doctor. You might even inspire your doctor to treat other patients differently.

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