Be MEAN to your Cardiologist!

That’s right, be mean to your Cardiologist!

No, I don’t mean for you to push him/her around the room, call him names, or bend him over the table and spank him! I was just trying to catch your attention.

All our lives we’re taught – it’s almost ingrained – that the doctor’s word is second only to whichever diety you choose to follow. You do what your doctor tells you without question. In fact, you are only allowed three answers: “Yes doctor!”, “No, doctor!”, and “May I have another lollipop, doctor?”

Well, not any more! Obviously more and more people are starting to take control of their own health care needs. As someone with a Congenital Heart Defect, you should be one of them. Face it: your heart is weird. And in an effort to get it to work correctly, you’ve probably had to have strange and unusual things done to it. The only person you can trust to be an expert on your heart is you.

Most people start by getting copies of their medical records. Sometimes it’s simple – just ask your doctor for a copy of the notes he makes during your next appointment. If you are seeing a specialist who will write a follow-up letter to your regular doctor, ask if you can get a copy of that. Don’t expect it that day, of course, perhaps in a week. If your doctor implies that your records aren’t any of your business – after all, you’re just the patient – smile sweetly and whisper that magic word: “HIPAA!”

One of the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) gives you the right to have a copy of your medical records if you ask for them. (CLICK HERE and page down to “The Privacy Rule”) If your medical records have some age on them or are stored in a hospital basement far away, then it seems that HIPAA works against you. Not really – the same law that allows you to see your records also protects you for anyone else seeing your records. You’re going to have to jump through a few hoops, but you can still get them. CLICK HERE for a basic explanation of how to get them.

Now that you have your records, it’s time to educate yourself. No one else has a heart that works exactly like yours. It’s Funky, and it is unique in the way it has been repaired. Your surgeon may have sewn that artificial valve in counterclockwise rather than clockwise, depending on what side of the table he was standing on or what kind of mood he was in. This is going to take some time – you’ll have to learn quite a few medical terms and understand how the body is put together. If you see an anatomy book at a good price, you should buy it.

Now, you should try to stay educated. Read the health sections of your local newspaper. There are a lot of good medical blogs on the internet; a good news reader (I use Bloglines – it’s internet based, so you don’t have to use the computer that you downloaded the program to. Any computer with an internet connection will work.) is just what you want. Be prepared to sort through dozens of blogs, adding the ones that address what you are looking for and dropping those that don’t.

Now that you have a good grasp of what is going on in your body, ask your doctor intelligent questions. And ask even more questions based on his answers. Ask for explainations. Make him THINK! Oprah’s friend Dr. Mehmet Oz wrote a book about the kind of patient you want to be: The Smart Patient! Some doctors appreciate patients who take the lead in managing theoir own health, but there are still a few who don’t appreciate it.  Those doctors will probably think that you are being mean to them. You’ll figure that out pretty quick, and you’ll move on to a doctor who wants to work with you rather than just tell you want to do.

Besides, those doctors probably woudn’t give you a second lollipop, either!

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One Response to “Be MEAN to your Cardiologist!”

  1. Pages tagged "mean" Says:

    […] bookmarks tagged mean Be MEAN to your Cardiologist! saved by 2 others     sasu504134saku bookmarked on 11/06/08 | […]

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