Windsor Parkinson Meeting November 22, 2011

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Welcomes Guest Speaker : Jackie McCreary RN </div>

will be presenting " How to effectively communicate with your Health Care Provider (HCP) "

Written By : Jackie Mc Creary R.N.

Does my 36-year nursing/obstetrical/fitness/nutrition background give me the right to attack this subject? No.

In my 59 years I have endured difficult, painful relationships, grief, cancer and severe physical pain and fatigue. l've crossed paths with alcoholism and mental illness. Yes, I'm a lot like everyone else. My plate is full with many challenges along life's path. And that is what gives me the right to tackle this subject.

Left to right - Pat St.Pierre and Jackie Mc Creary

At my lowest point, I was bedridden, had so much physical pain I thought I would go insane or die, and frankly wished the latter at times. Depression set in and I felt I was literally fighting for my life. My circumstances sent me on a search for relief, wisdom, happiness, truth: anything that would bring me to a healthier, more comfortable place. I embraced a holistic approach, involving the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical. You can't separate them even if you try.

That is my story and path.

First, I needed help, counselling, support! I was a mess and unable to communicate to anyone property let alone someone who had my life in their hands - or so I thought. Ironically, my work background provided me opportunity to guide others, sometimes with the very problems that were facing me. My poor health, with debilitating pain and fatigue, lowered my self-esteem considerably. I could no longer see my life in the proper prospective.

So if you can relate to this, no matter who you are and what you do, get help - and be proud of it!

Some of my help was professional but some guidance just came from honest friends and family. I'm also a big fan of support groups. But try committing to them for at least six weeks. Expect to hear some negative talk there. That was me actually, before I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I needed to share and cry.

I remember one night a wonderful woman named Eleanor offered me hope. Oh, how I needed hope. Search out those who will help you find answers and balance. Then, as you recover, you can offer others the same.

The support and counselling I received ( Good and bad ) eventually helped me discover:

We have a Right:

1. To be listened to, respected and treated with dignity
2. To information re: illness, treatment, medication and the benefits, risks and side effects
3. To participate in decisions regarding our care and treatment
4. To be informed of alternative therapy and/or a second opinion
5. To refuse drugs or treatment.

We are Responsible:

1. For obtaining information regarding our illness, drugs, etc.

2. For committing to following the treatment prescribed

3. For committing to leading a healthy lifestyle - avoiding that which will encourage illness and decrease the effectiveness of treatment.(e.g. smoking, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, etc.)

4. For making final decisions/choices and understanding and accepting benefits and repercussions of those decisions and choices

Knowing this will empower you to communicate more effectively.

For simplicity's sake, I will refer to all health care providers as HCPs.

This could be your family or naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist or anyone who is helping you regarding your health.

Even with my knowledge and background, feelings of inadequacy would overtake me. I have felt rushed, misunderstood and sometimes outright dismissed. I realized, however, it was my responsibility to do something about that.

The following tips can be very helpful at your HCP's office or any office for that matter. Especially when you may feel intimidated, consider the following:

Bring someone with you who can listen, support and perhaps take notes.
Be prepared. Have a priority list. Keep it in your hand and read through it. Take notes as well and ask for proper spelling if need be.
Realize you have paid for this visit and believe you deserve to get your money's worth. Two or three minutes are totally unacceptable, especially after waiting an hour or two.
If you are nervous, feel rushed or uncomfortable, express it. Most HCP's don't even realize their patients are upset and when they do are usually quite receptive. Be respectful of the HCP's time and circumstance. If the waiting room is full, do not waste time on anything but your health issues.
If you did not understand something, say so and ask for clarification.
Ask for your own copies of reports or tests and keep in a file that can be shown to other HCP's. This can save a great deal of time and prevent you from duplicating tests and procedures. There was a time I would have recommended simply getting a new doctor, if after doing all these things you still felt uncomfortable. Although I don't advocate that you settle for substandard care, we all know how difficult it is to obtain one doctor, let alone getting a second. So you can see, it is more important than ever to do your part to make this relationship work.

You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, but the first person to offer you that should be you! Always remember, you are deserving of no less.

Written By : Jackie Mc Creary R.N.

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