Have you ever gotten sick or had some type of medical issue and were given a diagnosis that just didn’t seem right to you? I think we’ve all be there, right? You get home and google whatever it is that you were just diagnosed with, and you see the list of symptoms and are like, “This just doesn’t add up. Were they even listening to me?”.
I’ve always known how important having the right doctors and advocating for your family could be, but after having twins, specifically Jamison, I really learned that it can be of the utmost importance in getting the correct care or treatment for your family. While Jamison is in great health, he has had a rough start and we have certainly had our fair share of hurdles to overcome to get to a place where we are comfortable.
Picking a Provider
So, how do I break this cycle in my household? Well, it’s easy, but time consuming and there can be some trial and error. The first thing I do, is make sure I have a primary physician who I trust and am comfortable with. My first step to doing this is asking people in my area who they like. Then, I personally, like to see where they went to school, what areas they studied, and what kind of background they have. I also like to read reviews online, to see what patients have said about them.
I think so often people just go down a list on an insurance website and randomly pick the first one available or the first one on the list, but in my opinion that’s just a recipe for disaster because you need the right person for you or for your family. The primary physician is going to be the one who refers you to specialists if the need for one ever arises. They are basically the hub for your healthcare, in most cases everyone reports back to them.
Do You Trust the Person Making Decisions About Your Health?
It’s not just the education background piece that’s important though, it’s the whole picture. When we first moved to Tennessee from the Chicago area, Deklan was only 2 months old, and prior to that he had seen the same pediatrician that I went to my whole childhood. Obviously, it was going to be hard to compete with him! So, I did my research and found a pediatrician who looked great on paper.
At Deklan’s two month well-check, the doctor informed me that we should start introducing our NEWBORN to juice. Ummm, excuse me? He lost me after that, and anything he said after, went in one ear and out the other. If you haven’t learned this about me already, I love research, so I knew how much this was NOT advised by The American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, they don’t even recommend it until after 12 months. Besides, I was breastfeeding my son for as long as we both felt up for it. (Side-note: I firmly believe in fed is best! 😊). Needless to say, that appointment was both our first and last with that doctor. If I couldn’t trust him, why would I keep taking my son there?
Fast forward to our current pediatrician, and my husband often makes fun of me, because I LOVE LOVE LOVE her. She is the best! When we are in her office I talk to her like she’s my best friend, and I wholeheartedly trust her opinion when it comes to my kids and I am extremely comfortable with her. It helps that we have very similar views on how to treat certain ailments. For example, neither one of us is big on throwing medicine at a problem and hoping for the best. Not to say we don’t treat with medication, because we most certainly do, we just opt for a cleaner approach IF it is available.
If you’ve read my blog regarding Jamison’s food allergies, then you’ve already heard the story about our first allergist. He was very well known and recognized within our community, and our pediatrician sent us to him for that reason. At Jamison’s testing appointment, after seeing his results, he quickly told me that my son was not going to be a well child and that he was going to have a very difficult life ahead. Talk about being defeated before you even get started. I know many kids have food allergies, why was it that my kid was going to be so unwell because of his? This obviously did not settle well with me, and because of this I think I started losing my faith in him.
What I’m trying to get you to understand with these stories is that, doing your research on a physician beforehand is a great place to get you started, but meeting with them in person is just as important. It’s completely okay to shop around for who is going to be best for you and your family.
Opening Up More Dialogue
We need to trust the people that we are taking our families to. Not only that, but we need to be comfortable enough to speak up and ask questions. So often I see people just take what a doctor has told them without questioning anything (my husband), even when they didn’t agree. Why do we do this? Why do we so blindly think that we should just take everything for a professional’s word without asking questions? I’m guilty of it myself. Yes, they are the experts, but they are human and they aren’t getting the whole picture. I don’t know, maybe it’s the fact that we’re embarrassed that we may seem unintelligent. Or maybe it’s because we’re afraid of the answers. Healthcare workers do their very best to get the whole picture by asking questions, but there are times that things get left out unless you open a larger dialogue by asking questions and talking.
Let me give you an example. Jamison was recently referred to a psychologist for an Autism screening. When she called me before our appointment to get him set up in her system, she went down through her list of questions. Toward the end of the phone call she mentioned how she occupies little ones and that she would have snacks available because it is a long process (four hours one day and another four the next). This is when I let her know that I would be bringing his snacks just to be on the safe side, because he had multiple food allergies and it was just best. She immediately responded by asking about his allergies and saying how important this was to know.
You see, had she not of said anything about food being provided, I wouldn’t have mentioned his allergies because I never would have thought that there could be a potential tie to food allergies and autism. This is what I mean by having a more open dialogue than just the normal, “I’ve had a fever and I’m tired”. When you leave things out that seem insignificant a proper diagnosis for a healthcare professional can be extremely difficult. It’s not because they aren’t trying their hardest, it’s because they cannot be monitoring your every action 24 hours a day. They are making the best diagnosis possible based on the information YOU have provided them.
I’m certainly not saying this will work for everyone, and I know that not everyone is as picky as me when it comes to…well, a lot of things (hello Type A personality!). But, if you are like me, or you find that you aren’t getting the answers you’re looking for and something I said above resonates with you, then maybe my suggestions will help! Just remember, in most cases you are not being forced to go to a certain physician so if you aren’t happy with where you are at then it’s time to shop around!