This is my attempt to help individuals rein in their own healthcare expenses and be part of an effort that could bring down healthcare costs nationally. I shall start with one's own costs. Some of this may seem to be "common sense" but I see examples every day of people who lack information that will be included here.
In this category, I include all those actions which will help you stay out of the doctor's office and hospital, AND those which will help others stay out of them. Some you may be practicing already, at least to some degree. Others may be new to you. I have additional pages on this website on the topic of healthcare and healthy living. At times, I will refer you to them.
1. Know your body.
This encompasses two areas of knowledge. The first is what I call "the owner's manual," and is basically human anatomy. I have a link to a website where you can learn human anatomy on the CHILDREN: Our Nation's Future page under the more tab. The second area of knowledge concerns your individual body. This is the part where you observe your own body's responses and keep track of how your own body responds to various things, from foods to exercise, sleep, stressful events, and illnesses. As an example, I'll cite something from my own life. Once I got past the usual childhood illnesses like measles and mumps, I was rarely ill, and when I did catch the flu, I was very sick for 2-3 days, and then I was "back to my normal self." In my late twenties, I noticed that it was beginning to take me longer and longer periods of rest and recovery to return to my normal energy levels and sense of feeling well. What I suffered most from was a feeling a fatigue which lasted weeks or months. Even worse, sometimes I could not get to sleep, while other times I could not drag myself out of bed in the morning and wake up. I would doze off in the middle of the day, or stumble through the day and fall asleep as soon as I got home. I knew that something was wrong. It took me 15 years of doctors and tests to determine what that "something" was: I had SLE, and that accounted for the continuation of the draggy feeling. When I got sick, my lupus riddled body went into hyperactivity, fighting the illness but also fighting with itself, which led to a feeling of constant, sometimes overwhelming fatigue. A lot of the doctors found nothing. They tested me for mononucleosis, leukemia, thyroid disorders, and I don't even remember what all. The critical issue however, was that I KNEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG! I just didn't know what. Finally, a gynecologist tested me for ANA and told me "You know you have lupus don't you?" That opened another chapter that belongs in the column to the right. I'm not sure why he tested me for that, and I was there just for a routine pelvic, but I will be forever grateful to him for identifying my problem.
That experience proved that because I knew what my body normally did, I knew when something was not normal, despite the failure of the prior doctors to identify the problem. That's the point. When you know your body isn't behaving its own personal normal way, keep looking for the problem, because it's there. You can know your own body better than any doctor, and to have a truly effective interaction with doctors, you need to report the things that are "off." Report it to all your doctors, because one of them, even the one you'd think least likely, will be the one who figures out what's wrong with you. If a doctor suggests that you are not really sick, or it's in your head, see a psychologist to rule that out, and CHANGE DOCTORS because THAT one isn't listening!
2. KNOW YOUR RISKS
This means finding out as much about your family medical history as you can. It can also include having your DNA tested (the problem with this is that many insurance companies will drop you if you show up with a gene for various things,. Breast cancer comes to mind).
It also means to be honest with yourself about your activities, habits, your diet, your exercise -- all of that stuff. Do you smoke? Do you exercise regularly? Do you get your daily vitamin requirements? Do you get good nutrition -- plenty of fiber, vegetables, fruits? Is your diet too heavy in red meat, fatty foods, fried foods, sugary foods. Do you test regularly for health issues? Blood sugar, cholesterol, kidney & liver functions, STD's? Do you take drugs -- prescription or not -- and do you know how they affect your nutrition and each other? Do you monitor blood pressure, sugar, anything else? Above all be honest about mental health. Depression can have a lifetime effect on your children. So can other mental health issues.
It can be useful to keep a diary of what you eat and do, how you feel (foods can affect your moods and energy levels). Rack up the calories in and out, the vitamins and minerals consumed. Readings from tests and monitoring devices. Write down when you start and stop drugs along with the dosage. Note changes in dosage.
3. KNOW YOUR HISTORY!
I cannot stress this enough. Keep a file with copies of your medical records, expenses, schedule of appointments, everything. Get it from your mother and childhood doctors. Keep them for your kids. If you change doctors, get your records from the doctor you are leaving. It may not be so important now, but in the future, if you need to apply for disability, it may be.
4. KNOW YOUR TARGETS!
Liver Function Test Results
Kidney Function Test Results
Other blood test Results
It might be helpful to keep a chart on graph paper over time, especially for areas of particular concern. Compare
ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSTIC AND MONITORING
ASSESSMENT refers to what to do when you know something is wrong, with yourself, your spouse,, your parent, your child, or anyone else. The "something""
may be minor, such as a superficial cut which needs cleaning, antiseptic, antitic cream, a bandage, and maybe a kiss on the booboo. It might be a bit more serious, but still not critical, such as the flu, where you put the afflicted person to bed, serve plenty of water, administer the BRAT diet (Bananas, applesauce, Rice, and tea) and keep them there until the fever has been gone for 24 hours. Or it might be more serious, like appendicitis, or a broken bone.. The first part of this preparation, in my view, is to be trained in first aid, to know the symptoms of common illnesses, situations, and have a fully stocked first aid kit at hand.. I also recommend a blood pressure cuff, a blood sugar testing kit, and a stethoscope. It may be redundant, but you also need to know how to use them.