The importance of a health care advocate can’t be measured. On days I feel sick, alone, and defeated, I call my best friend and share what I’m going through. When I feel like I’m being ignored by health care professionals and I’m not getting the treatment I need, I call my mother and she motivates me to be more aggressive. And when I feel like I just need a hug and for someone to tell me that I will be in remission soon enough, I run to my husband.
But health care advocates are much more than a supportive phone call. A true health care advocate is invested in your health care, which includes your diagnosis, treatment plan, and sustainability. They are your second set of ears at a doctor’s appointment and they are your voice when you’re not being heard.
My mother is my health care advocate and with good reason. When I was pregnant and systematic, I couldn’t find a doctor who would help me because of the pregnancy; she found one. When I couldn’t get a doctor’s office to simply fax my medical records to another health care provider, she made it happen. She has offered to speak to doctors, the insurance company, and anyone else who will listen to get me the treatment I need. Thanks to her, I know that I’m never alone in what sometimes feels like a fight.
I encourage anyone managing an IBD to seek a health care advocate so that you, too, have someone fighting in your corner. Choose someone you trust, who is reliable, compassionate, assertive, and comfortable asking questions. Share with them your medical history, what works well for you and what doesn’t, and keep them updated on your progress. Invite them to important medical appointments and let them ask questions and take notes. And, of course, thank them for their incredible support.
If you’re interested in reading more on the importance of health care advocates and how to include them in your health care plan, here’s a good article: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/caregiver_resources/the-power-of-a-health-care-advocate.