In the past, I have been very guilty of blindly following doctor’s orders without questioning or researching a prescription or course of treatment (if you know me well, that may surprise you.). I really regret doing this with things like Adderall. It was just easier to fill the prescription and go on my way, but now I’m paying the price for that decision. An educated patient is an empowered patient and no one is more affected by your health, or lack thereof, more than you are. Here are just a few ways you can be your own advocate:
- Research: This one could be pretty time consuming, but it is so worth it. I realize not everyone has time or interest in reading books on nutrition and health, but at the very least research when you’ve been given a diagnosis (not to be confused with diagnosing yourself via WebMD or Dr. Google. You will surely end up thinking you have cancer or organ failure.) Research the diagnosis itself as well as alternative treatments. Get a second opinion. Talk to anyone you know who has the same diagnosis, or if that’s too embarrassing find an online forum. Find out what they wish they’d known then or what they wished they had done differently. There are ways to correct health problems other than taking a pill and you deserve to know ALL your options.
- Shop around. Insurance companies make this rather challenging because you have to reference a CPT code unique to each procedure. Calling your insurance company to check prices on various procedures BEFORE having them done is a good idea, especially if you have a high deductible. There may be times where paying cash for a test or visit is actually cheaper than using your insurance. GoodRX is a free app you can use to save on prescriptions at participating pharmacies (most of them participate). As you can see from the screenshot to the right I am able to save almost $60 on this prescription by using GoodRX instead of my insurance policy where I would pay $125. The only catch is that you have to present the coupon (either printed or via the app) at the pharmacy and the prices can change from one month to another. I’m still working out the details of whether I can submit the prescription to my insurance company after the fact so that it will apply toward my deductible. Bonus: Use the money you saved on your prescription toward health promoting purchases such as fresh, unprocessed food, a massage or a babysitter for your kids so you can relax.
- Find a doctor that aligns with your personal philosophy. If you don’t want to use prescriptions as a front line defense and your doctor is a big fan of them, that is a mismatch. More recently, I’ve questioned my doctor on a course of treatment based on things I’ve read and he takes the time to look into it. I really appreciate that because I don’t think its reasonable to expect a busy doctor to be completely up to speed on every health condition. It is unfortunate that doctors are being pressured into spending so little time with each patient because it makes it really difficult for them to effectively counsel on treatment options other than prescriptions.
- Enlist the support of a Naturopathic Doctor (ND): ND’s have an extensive education that focuses on treating in more a holistic manner including dietary and lifestyle changes and supplements. They seek to discover the underlying cause for the symptoms instead of just treating the symptoms. For example, you might have high blood pressure. Instead of just giving you a pill to treat the high blood pressure the ND would work with you to address the underlying cause. By correcting the underlying cause this can help prevent future health complications that the blood pressure medicine does not address. They can order lab tests, perform minor surgeries and in some states write prescriptions. They would be an excellent option for a second opinion or even just general well checks. Visit www.naturopathic.org to learn more. My first visit with my ND was 1.5 hours. Seriously, the most thorough visit I have ever had with a medical professional.
- Be proactive. Don’t wait until you’re sick! Go get those well visits taken care of each year. If you have insurance, they are supposed to be no cost to you. Don’t forget self-checks either! Don’t have time to do those things? Do you have time to be sick? “But it won’t happen to me.” That’s what we all say. This is perhaps the simplest, yet hardest step in the whole list. Why is that?
I would love to know if you have any suggestions to add to this list. Health impacts every area of our lives and is worth the extra effort. It is all about priorities.
A few weeks ago I shared with you all that I would be quitting Adderall and even proposed a schedule (I like schedules and lists, ha). I was so encouraged by the response to that first Adderall post! It is surprising that so many of you can relate either personally or from a friend or family member’s experience. Well, ditching the Adderall proved much harder than I thought…way harder than the 75 pounds I lost in my early 20’s and that was HARD. The thing is, this stuff messes with your mind and your body. Not everyone responds the same way to any medication. My experience is sure to be different from the next person’s. When I lowered my dosage after a few days I began to feel a deep sadness, almost grief like, except there was absolutely no logical reason for it. No one had died! I felt extremely lonely even though I’m around people quite frequently. Being depressed is a scary, dark place and I didn’t feel it was wise to just push ahead with my plan because that was THE PLAN. Thank you, Dr. Ang, for giving me the encouragement I needed to take it slower. So, I’m progressively dropping my dose each month which means I can possibly expect some depression to return each time the dose drops and I will plan accordingly. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to offer help, encouragement or share your experience. You are a blessing to me!
I am so thankful for each and every one of you who has taken the time to read my posts. Please be sure to like and share my posts and my page if you have found them helpful. Your support is priceless!
Sara, I am here for you always – good times and bad times.
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