So, now you have been diagnosed with your chronic illness, you've done your research, you've found the brightest and the best doctors, facilities, treatments and hospitals. You are also keeping an organized file on your journey through this new reality. What's next?Well this next step should happen simultaneously with the research phase of your recent diagnosis. If at all possible, you should have someone with you to share this journey. This is not something you should go through on your own if at all possible.This person, who I will call your Patient Advocate, needs to be a person you trust and feel comfortable with in sharing your emotions and personal information. This Patient advocate is often a parent, a sibling, a spouse and or best friend. It is someone you feel at ease with and don't have to put on false airs.This Patient Advocate should be with you at most of your doctor's visits, treatments, rehab appointments and hospitalizations. They need to be your extra set of eyes and ears. They should be taking notes and listening closely as the doctor, nurse, and or technician is speaking. You both have to be comfortable with one another, so comfortable you don't have to worry about offending or upsetting one another. This will be a key factor as the stress level rises.Your personal patient advocate should go through the patient education and counseling journey with you whenever possible. They should have a working knowledge of your case and should be able to answer questions when you are not able. The following is a list of questions they should know the answer too.1. What medicine are you taking? This includes all medicine you are taking and not just the medicine you are taking for this particular illness.
2. Who is your primary care doctor?
3. What doctors are you seeing?
4. How do we contact these doctors? For example do you know, or have, their phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses and so on.
5. What is the patients diagnosis?
6. What did the doctor prescribe and what is his plan of action?
7. What treatments, surgeries and or procedures have you had in the past?
8. What allergies do you have?
9. What medications or tests have you had problems with in the past?
10. Who are the patient's emergency contacts and does the patient have a living will? Who is the power of attorney?Having someone there with you as your patient advocate is all part of taking responsibility for your condition and treatment and becoming your own health care CEO. The less that is left up to chance the better your odds are of coming through this successfully. And when I say successfully, I mean with no unnecessary complications and or traumatic events.