Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Letter D in the Challenge- Diagnosis

What do I do?
What do you do while waiting for a diagnosis? Diagnosis is the D word for today.

Waiting can be worse than knowing what it is you are up against. Often our fear and our imagination make a problem much worse than it is. On the other hand, we are an educated society and we also know that symptoms that appear to be nothing can turn into nightmare diagnoses and treatments.

Here are some basic tips for seeking and waiting for the diagnosis.

1. Seek diagnosis and treatment early when you have a symptom you cannot explain. Never assume it is nothing, and never assume it will just go away.

2. Get  a second opinion if you think you are not being taken seriously. Cancer for instance, goes undetected in young adults more than 50 % of the time initially because health care providers look at young adults as a healthy age group and do not look into their complaints thoroughly. One young adult every 8 minutes is diagnosed with cancer. April 3-9th is is awareness week for young adults with cancer.

3. Find a physician you trust. Going from urgent care clinic to urgent care clinic on an as needed basis is not consistent health care. It can actually contribute to overlooking a serious illness just because of their purpose in treating the immediate symptoms. Find and follow a physician you trust.

4. You have found a physician, you have had the medical testing he or she suggested, now you must wait for the answers. Be patient for results. It can take a week or more to get the answers read, a report typeds, and the copy sent to your physician. But don't assume the office will call you. Contact the office in one week if you have not heard about the results. A friendly reminder to a busy office staff that you are home waiting is an appropriate response. Be careful not to freak out. Take one day at a time while waiting.

5. Diagnosis is made, now sit down with your physician to map out a plan. This will more than likely mean more visits to specialists, more testing, and much waiting before a treatment plan is established. Again, be patient and stay in contact with the office. Ask for a time frame for results, ask about the projected treatments, and get a quick idea of what the plan will be. If the diagnosis is strep throat, that will be a much less involved discussion than if your physician suspects the lump in your breast is cancer. Take time to discuss the options with your doctor and this is most important. Make sure the plan he outlines is one you feel comfortable with. If you don't feel right about something that has been discussed, seek a second opinion to make sure.

6. Deal with your emotional health as well as your physical health. Allow tears, rants, and tolerate those if the diagnosis is not you but a child or spouse. It is all part of the process of diagnosis and treatment. Deal with fears head on. If you fear pain, discuss this with your doctor so pain can be taken care of. If you fear surgery, discuss this as well. Be open and educated. This will help to lessen the fears of what is to come.

Diagnosis can be frightening. Diagnosis  can mean a long term condition like thyroid or diabetes, or a more serious malignancy. Whatever the diagnosis is, finding a physician you trust and can be open with will make the journey more successful. Include family in the diagnosis so you will have the emotional and physical support from family and friends that you need. If you are not comfortable with what your doctor is telling you, please always seek a second opinion for peace of mind. You will deal best with knowledge and the facts, so blessings on the journey to find them. Feel free to email me if you have questions or great resources for the readers here dealing with any kind of diagnosis.

No comments: