1. I learned what I needed to know to improve my visit quality. I provided them details of my medical history. I also learned my family’s medical history. This was important so my medical provider could keep a watchful eye on conditions that may be a problem in the future, even if they weren’t today.
2. I took notes of when I had pain or other ailments, including when (date), and how long they happened. I wrote down questions I had so I wouldn’t forget them during the appointment. I also kept track of my vitals on my own so I could compare them to when I last visited the doctor. My goal wasn’t “stable” vitals. I wanted them to improve. Their job is to track. It was up to me to ensure they were getting better.
3. I learned what each number (blood pressure, PSA, cholesterol, etc.) meant and its importance to my wellness profile. For example, high blood pressure can lead to strokesUnderstanding how conditions interplay helped me put my personal wellness puzzle together.
4. I chose to find ways to improve my eating habits that I could maintain. Too often we make dramatic changes that we cannot keep up. I started by drinking water instead of sodas and decreasing my portion sizes at meals. I made a point of cooking more often and purchasing more fresh fruits and vegetables for snacking. Each change was subtle as I focused on making one healthy eating decision each day until it became a habit.
5. Finally, I changed the word “exercise” into “activity”. I wanted to engage in a health related activity as much as possible. Exercise meant I had to plan, or go to a gym, or take a class. Activity meant I could take my dog for a walk, ride a bike to the corner store, or do some stretching to get myself going in the morning.
In all, these changes improved my experience with the doctor. I still don’t like needles, getting shots, or getting blood drawn. I still feel like the staff are just “doing their job” and don’t have a stake in my health. But, why should they? It is my health and wellness so it should be more important to me.
My experience with the doctor improved and my adherence to follow-up and treatment plans improved when I decided to take charge of my health and wellness, instead of others.
And that has made all the difference in my health outcomes.