The Importance of Advocating for Your Medical Care
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For years I took medications designed to control the symptoms of my rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups, which have the side-effects of increasing the likelihood of experiencing a Deep Venous Thrombosis (i.e. A major blood clot). I had experienced a DVT about 10 years before I had a second incident that led me to feel extremely angry with the medical staff, panicked about my pain, and anxious about my prognosis.
High Risk Event
The first time that I had a DVT clot they almost amputated my leg, but I managed to somehow pray and will that I would one day stand again, which may be connected with the reason that I managed to avoid the procedure and recover normally with a simple round of medications. However, the second time that I found my other leg in excruciating pain with red-hot burning sensations radiating throughout my skin and muscle, I was more focused and pro-active about how I approached the situation with the medical staff. I went to the ER because my leg was throbbing with pain, and I recognized the sensations, but the doctor who was assigned to treat me told me that this was not a blood-clot. He prescribed some medications and told me that I would be fine, so I went home with a cautious eye on my condition. As the evening progressed, the leg continued to swell, and the pain became unbearable, so I was taken back to the hospital, and after several lab tests, the results showed that I had a simple edema in my leg – They prescribed more medications and sent me back home.
However, I was extremely anxious about the situation, because I was now into the second day of my condition, and the swelling had not improved. Meeting with the doctor at the clinic that morning did not soothe my anxiety or my pain, and after several hours of waiting to meet with him, he told me that I was fine. However, I told him and the medical assistant that I wanted a full scan of the leg, and while the assistant told me that only the doctor could make a request for that procedure, he stalled and told me that it was a waste of time and money and that I was fine. I pressed him because of my experience 10-years earlier, so he eventually relented and gave his assistant the OK to run a scan.
They wheeled me to the radiology lab, and I was stewing with anger, resentment, and also fear about what was next. The radiologist looked at my leg and was shocked by the amount of swelling, where he asked me if the doctor had actually looked at the leg. Although I told him that the physician had already seen me, he had me sent back to the doctor for a closer look, and my heart was pounding with both anger and fear. They wheeled me into the doctor’s office once again, but this time he actually appeared to be properly concerned as he was paced in thought about what to do with me. He rang the secretary and told her to have my husband come to his office, when he told us both that I had the worst DVT event that he had ever seen and that I needed to be admitted for an emergency procedure immediately.
That morning my children had been taken out to a show, because I didn’t want them to worry about me, but I myself was terrified about whether or not I would see them again in full health. DVT is an extremely high risk situation, and every step of the treatment needs to be handled quickly and with great care. Once I was admitted the only thing that I thought about was that just as with my first blood-clot, I could overcome this situation if I remained focused on my determination to return home and see them in good health. Of course, I successfully returned home and took the time to heal and recover, but only through focused determination and the will to challenge the medical staff to double-check their diagnosis.
This should be a clear example of why it’s so important to learn about your medical problems personally and to know how to advocate for yourself if medical professionals are not able to meet your needs. I encourage everybody at every age to become responsible for learning about their conditions and taking consistent action with their medical attendants.