Some decisions you take at a whim, by simply trusting your guts. Others require more careful thought and it takes a much longer time for you to arrive at a decision. Even then, because such decisions have to do with weighty matters, you are often not quite sure if you have made the right decision. That is especially more complicated if all the options have some inescapable consequences.
Health decisions belong in the second category. Poor health management may ultimately lead to death and patients continue to feel some anxiety even after following their physician’s advice. Howbeit, is there any way you can be more confident of decisions concerning your health? There must be!
It’s easier to be confident in your decision-making when you are adequately informed of the options you have. Only then can you be able to measure the pros and cons of each option against the other. Whenever you are at a health crossroads, do well to have every piece of truly useful information you can get.
You can’t do this any better than asking questions. Ask your doctor questions about any and everything. Each aspect is important to your final decision and none should be left to mere guesses and gambles. Either should they be left to generic online information; a very good case study of this was written by Andrew Le, Md of Buoy Health about the tale of two misled patients. Seek clarifications for every area that doesn’t seem quite clear to you. Know and understand all the options available to you and the nuances of each.
Trust (your) Physicians
It is okay to request more time from your doctor to consider your options and make up your mind. It is also good to use that time to research the solutions your physician has proposed in order to understand them better.
However, in your quest for information, never assume you know better than your doctor, because you don’t, and in fact, can’t. Googling your symptoms does not make you a medical expert; in fact, it can be a waste of time and money.
Doctors understand that each patient’s case is unique and try to recommend the best-personalized options. However, whatever other advice you get anywhere (books, the internet, family members) may be good but can only be generic. Even worse, they may not be applicable to your peculiar condition. If you, for any reason, doubt your doctor, speak with them about it, or another trained physician.
Small Decisions Count
Many people give less attention to their health choices unless they are in a serious dilemma. Such people fail to recognize that decision-making concerning their health does not begin when they walk into the doctor’s office. Rather, it begins with micro choices of diet, exercise routine, sleep schedule and many other largely ignored factors.
If you can make the right decisions in small matters such as what you have for breakfast, making a tougher decision should pose fewer problems for you as it does for others. A person who eats rightly exercises regularly and sleeps well goes about other daily activities with confidence. There’s no magic to it.
With certain exceptions, it is your right to refuse a particular type of medical care if it is against your beliefs (religious or not), values and ethics. In this world where technology provides several options, more freedom in this regard is being asserted by patients all over. In the case a form of treatment contradicts your beliefs, do well to keep your doctor in the loop so that such would be put into consideration for future treatments.
For instance, some patients prefer to undergo surgery and overcome their condition as soon as possible. Others may be apprehensive of surgery and prefer steady promising treatments. Whichever works for you, ensure your healthcare provider understands your preferences.
However, in extreme situations, you may have to do away with them; but in most cases, your personal preference goes a long way.
Advance Healthcare Directive
Advance healthcare directives are becoming common now. They are sometimes otherwise known as living wills or simply, advance directives. They help you make decisions ahead of a possible period when you would be incapable of making a decision. Just like wills, they are backed up by laws and basically tell your physician(s) what you would have wanted them to do in the case that you can’t communicate same them.
An advance care directive, though can be updated at any time, must be approached carefully with extensive research and professional consultation, usually with your doctor and lawyer. Advance care directives vary in forms. One type is the proxy option which grants another person (usually a close relative) the power to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Advance directives are already legal in a number of countries.
Health decisions are apparently very crucial decisions and should not be taken lightly. One has to be more careful of the choices you make, never forget to dig out all the information you can get. Consult with your physician, consider your personal values, have an advance healthcare directive, and above all, make your small decisions count. And don’t forget that you shouldn’t rely on online symptom checkers.