How Can I Be Proactive About My Health?
Whether you are looking into joining a clinical trial or simply researching your options and the newly available treatments for your condition, there are many ways you can be proactive about your treatment, instead of taking the road more traveled and solely relying on your physician and the medication they prescribed.
The truth is, depending on your country of residence, your medical insurance, and the health policies in your state, there might be a few options that are in fact available but you were not informed about.
Taking your health into your own hands and making a greater effort to be proactive can be very empowering, especially if you’re struggling with feeling victimized by your chronic condition.
And here’s the thing about taking your health into your own hands – it doesn’t have to mean distrusting medical professionals or trying to cure yourself with debatable herbal teas (or emu oil) and meditation, or believing in superstition. Far from it.
If you’ve been following us on the blog for a while, you already know that we at FindMeCure are huge proponents for the holistic approach to health. And in recent years science seems to be backing us up on this.
Emotional and mental distress can be as much of a contributor to some health conditions as bad eating habits and lack of physical activity are, and some research even suggests that loneliness can be worse for our health than smoking.
Yes, genetics and environment play a huge role, but environment can mean so many things – even the people and situations you choose to surround yourself with. And if these people and situations are not supportive of your mental health and instead make you feel constantly stressed out, exhausted and miserable, your condition doesn’t have to run in the family.
And while none of us live a stress-free life, some emotional turmoil can have an even greater impact on our bodies. Somatic experiencing, for example, is a type of therapy mostly used to manage the effects of PTSD in the past, but now thought to be beneficial in dealing with all sorts of trauma. Practitioners believe that we store a lot of our inner emotional experiences in the body. And in cases of trauma, those experiences can manifest as physical symptoms and left alone to fester can make us sick.
Science in recent years seems to support the notion that the way we deal with life’s hardships emotionally can have a long term effect on our health. Pediatrician Nadine Harris used to view childhood trauma for example as a social issue until she realized the impact it can have on a person’s long term health outcomes.
Why are we telling you all of this? Well, just like maintaining a healthy diet and incorporating some physical activity in our day-to-day lives can improve our body’s fighting chances, emotional prophylactic can be a useful tool in our treatment kit as well.
If you are suffering from a chronic disease, especially of the autoimmune variety, it could be your body’s way of alarming you that something is not quite right on more than surface level and you need to pay close attention to the way you’ve been living your life.
We are in no way New Age-y here – physical symptoms are physical symptoms and they need to be treated accordingly. But if you truly want to be proactive about your health, you can take your treatment a step further to include other areas of your life as well.
Now, what would this look like in practical terms?
Chose a medical professional you can trust. You are allowed to be picky about who’s on your health team. find someone you can trust with your concerns and who’s patient enough with your questions.
Remember that a good professional never comes to quick conclusions and always waits for more results before coming to a diagnosis. Put your trust in someone seems inquisitive enough and has a warm calming presence – this so underrated in some cultures where healthcare is far from patient-centered but a doctor who knows how to ease your anxiety can make a huge difference for the better.
Never hesitate to seek a second opinion – you shouldn’t feel like you’re stuck with whoever you went to see first even if you’ve been working with them for some time. It takes some time to find the right professionals and it takes time to be prescribed the right treatment but it’s worth every effort and inconvenience.
Research your options. Have your own investigation going on while you consult with medical practitioners. Look into the symptoms, the possible causes, insist on all the tests you feel are needed and if it feels like your doctor is operating under presumptions (e.g. “You’re too young to have…”) insist on exploring more causes.
Look into your lifestyle for answers. If you can afford it, go to a nutritionist to make sure your diet is compatible with your treatment (as it can sometimes mess with it in less than desirable ways).
But when you do take a look, don’t limit your evaluation the commonly cited factors and dig a little deeper. Is the way you live your life making you feel happy and fulfilled? Are your relationships nurturing or draining you? Do you have some unresolved issues you refuse to own up to?
A chronic disease can be a huge catalyst of positive change in your life and it’s all in the way you choose to frame it.
And while we’re on the topic of options and change, look into clinical trials as well. Not necessarily so you can join one, although that can be a turning point in your life (and you don’t have to take our word for it – just go ahead and read Holden’s story). In fact, researching clinical trials can lead you down some interesting roads.
Maybe you learn of a new drug just recently released on the market that your doctor, as informed and as dedicated as they are, doesn’t know about yet. Or, you can learn about other therapies being researched that show promising results and decide to give it a shot eventually.
Being informed about the latest research trends gives you the knowledge you need to take your health into your hands and ask for a different treatment, instead of relying on what has been done for years. So, researching clinical trials is worth it even if you don’t ultimately end up enrolling in one. We have written extensively about the world of clinical research studies and we regularly update our readership on the newest treatments and therapies under investigation, so keep searching our blog to find topics of interest to you.
Get all the support you need. And never be ashamed to ask for help. You are not a burden – the people who love you will be glad to know what they can do for you, it makes them feel needed and cherished, so whenever you ask for help you are giving as well as taking. We know how important it is to be reassured that you’re not selfish by asking for help or sharing your story, so here we say it.
And if you need professional help in dealing with all the thoughts and emotions evoked by your condition, that’s fine too. There is no shame in admitting when you can’t handle a situation on your own, in fact, there is a lot of bravery in doing so.
You can even find a counselor who is trained to help people with your particular condition and unless you happen upon someone who’s just bad at their job (in which case – keep searching), you’ll never regret receiving useful advice and tools to manage your emotions.
Build a community you can trust. Some recent research seems to suggest that patients seek advice from other patients even when their primary doctor is available to answer their questions. And while sharing experience is no substitute for sound medical advice, it can be a huge source of comfort to talk to someone going through something similar to what you’re dealing with. So join a support group of an online forum and find people you can relate to. Or even engage with other patients in the comment section on one of our posts – you can find people coming from a similar background, looking for ways to be more proactive about their health.
And, if in your research on clinical trials you happen to learn about a new treatment that you’d like to give a chance, you can search for it on FindMeCure.