As hospitals become increasingly overcrowded, regulations and treatments become more and more complex and expensive, and people feel more and more cut off from their healthcare providers, it may seem like quality medical care is hard to come by. Every part of the country has a unique set of health and environmental issues, and New York is no different. Here are some relevant tips for issues facing women in your area today.
Communication is Everything
Consider this scenario: You pace in a waiting room for thirty minutes then are moved into an examination room for even longer until your doctor finally bustles in late, distracted, rushed, and often dismissive. If this sounds familiar to you, remember that your time and money are valuable. So find positive ways to take charge of your experience and make the most of your doctor visit.
Be Prepared and Detailed: Be ready to provide every detail of your condition including specific dates you noticed problems, frequency of occurrences, specific affected areas, etc. Explain your pain using a 1-10 pain scale rather than just saying something hurts. Write everything down if need be so that you don’t forget critical details.
Be Concise and Direct: Rather than trying to begin with anecdotal conversation, it helps if you start by relaying all relevant information with as few words as possible. By making sure you provide as much detail succinctly up front, you’ll buy yourself more time for more natural conversation and questions once all the facts have been laid out.
Be Honest and Thorough, Even if Uncomfortable: We all have topics that feel difficult to talk about, but if you’re unable to talk to a licensed and degreed professional, how will you be able to get the care you deserve? Don’t hold back on any details out of embarrassment, as your health and wellbeing are way too important. Also, remember that your doctor probably has impartial conversations about these topics on a daily basis.
Once your doctor makes a diagnosis, ask questions immediately if something doesn’t seem right to you. Though this can be a stressful and painful time, remember to maintain a positive tone and expectation that the two of you are a team. As such, you deserve to be comfortable with the prescribed course of treatment. If the diagnosis seems off, feel free to let your provider know. Remember that communication is a two-way street; if your doctor is about to leave the room and you are not yet comfortable with all that has transpired, you have the right to let them know that you still have questions.
Where to Find Reliable Information
After your doctor’s visit, you’ll likely want to start doing some research online to ensure you will be getting either the latest treatments or the safest possible medicines. It can be tempting to become emotionally attached to the kinds of content that passes through our feed on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but we need to be diligent about the data we accept as fact, especially when it comes to our health. The National Institute of Health provides a wealth of easily accessible information at medlineplus.gov. You can begin searching for things like facts about breast cancer or compare doctor/hospital ratings to find a trustworthy second opinion, but always consider the source of data wherever you end up.
In addition to data on clinical studies, drug efficacy and hospital ratings, navigating the murky waters of Health Insurance and Medicaid coverage can take a great deal of research. Not only do regulations and coverage change constantly, you may not get straight answers from your insurance providers, especially if you are facing an extremely severe or debilitating illness. Terence A. J. Mannion, Esq., founding partner of a medicaid attorney in Syracuse, NY, points out; “If you were to sit down and talk to anybody in the Medicaid system, they’re not going to point out [undue hardship exemptions] to you. Without an attorney, you’d have no ideas of what your rights are and what you would need to do to protect your assets.”
Part of today’s healthcare crisis is due to staffing shortages; if you enjoy spending time researching medical topics, there are several programs in your state offering everything from an RN to BSN degree program to PCP programs. It seems like there are never enough nurses and doctors to go around, so this is one industry unlikely to experience an economic slowdown. While we may complain about the healthcare industry, the best way to change it is from the inside. Developing a lifelong connection to local families can be incredibly rewarding, as can be seen in testimonials from places like AFW, a women’s health practice in Lebanon, NJ:
“17 years ago Dr. Rubin delivered my son, and I am still happy with the great service this group provides!”
Local Issues from Pollution to Lyme Disease
Environmental pollution is responsible for everything from increased occurrence and severity of asthma or pneumonia to cancers, heart and lung disease, and even birth defects. Thanks to the typical flow of the jet stream, New York trends higher than the national average for some of these airborne issues. You can monitor online air quality in real time at airnow.gov and take Ozone Alerts seriously, especially if you have younger or elderly family members who might be more vulnerable.
Using top quality HVAC filters for fine particulate or indoor air quality filters helps you and your family breathe easier and sometimes contributes to more restful sleep – another issue affecting people everywhere. We often think air pollution primarily affects the lungs, but the skin is the largest organ in the body, and it readily absorbs pollutants as well. Therefore, an evening shower after a day of increased exposure can be both relaxing and beneficial to your long-term health.
Why Herd Immunity is Important
Staying healthy is vitally important, especially in places where national and international travelers frequent. In our busy world, when people get sick, they cannot afford to lay low long enough to get better. This means they expose everyone they meet to contagious illness, from strangers on the street to cashiers, customers, and coworkers.
The first line of defense is to not get sick, and this can include everything from vaccines to eating well, getting plenty of rest, and diligent hand-washing practices. Staying healthy is not just about you; it’s about everyone around you and their families, as well. People you meet throughout the day may have an infant or loved one at home with an impaired immune system or chronic illness. By staying healthy ourselves, we are protecting hundreds of people we will never meet.
Small Changes Work Best
By now, we’ve gotten the message loud and clear that we need to make smarter food decisions and get more exercise. We might make lofty New Year’s Eve resolutions or spend a bunch of money on a new regimen that we only use a few days before returning to our old habits. If you need to make a change to your lifestyle, research consistently shows that the best methods involve slow, gradual changes.
Resolve to make just one small change per week. Write it down on the calendar or set a reminder on your smartphone, if you must. Psychologists say that it takes about 21 days for a new behavior to become a habit, so tell yourself you only need to stick it out for three weeks and then see what happens. Never try to “kick” a bad habit; always replace a bad habit with a healthy one.
Above all, remember that you are your best advocate; be engaged and don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek more information. Women tend to put everyone else in their lives first, but don’t forget that your health matters not just to you, but to everyone who loves you, so make yourself a priority!