Lots of women have shared some of the experiences they had with their doctors, and quite honestly, it is saddening. Doctors are supposed to ease nerves, but sometimes, they end up piling more stress on top of what you take to their consulting rooms.
And if you suspect you are dealing with endometriosis, the best you can do for yourself is to be really enlightened about the condition, ask questions like your life depends on it, (in truth, the quality of your life depends on it.) and insist on getting answers.
This approach is particularly important, as it has been shown that, on average, a woman will wait 7.5 years from the moment she begins to experience symptoms to the moment she is diagnosed. She might feel anything from mild discomfort to excruciating pain; some women with endometriosis will exhibit no symptoms at all while others endure symptoms that have a crippling effect on their daily life.
For Monica, it took a whole ten years, from when she was age 17 and had started being admitted to the hospital for menstrual pain, to age 27, when the third doctor she had seen put all her symptoms and tests results together and came up with the endometriosis diagnosis. This was a diagnosis that she had known for years, thanks to the several online resources and, of course, Dr Google. But every time she brought it up, her previous doctors had swept it aside and came up with their own diagnosis, treated her for it and left her with the pain she had come with.
Monica moved to another doctor, whom she had heard favourable reviews about, brought up her suspected diagnosis, and she was listened to, at least she had been living with the pain for almost a decade by then. Investigations were done and the right diagnosis arrived at.
I must however point out that getting the right results from her consultation with the doctor wasn’t a stroke of luck; she actually made some changes in her approach. Monica shares those changes with her fellow Endo sisters in this piece.
Keep a diary:
Monica has been keeping notes of her symptoms for years but never once did she share with her doctors. That changed with her last doctor, whom she shared several years’ worth of notes with and instantly, it changed the urgency attached to her condition.
Keeping a diary can help your doctor know your symptoms throughout the month, determine if there is a pattern or be able to associate symptoms with diet, exercise, or your period.
If keeping a physical diary is cumbersome, then look up apps that allow you keep track of your symptoms.
Prepare your questions
I once visited a doctor who told me that when I talked while he was writing, that I was distracting him. After that, I stopped talking and only replied when he asked questions. Please don’t be like me. With endometriosis, it is better to come prepared, and if that means writing down your questions, observations and comments, then by all means do so. What matter is that you are knowledgeable about what was going on in your body, the treatment plans and such.
If there is a diagnosis you suspect that your doctor simply won’t entertain, ask politely why or why not. If you are still not convinced, ask if that doctor has done all that is within his or her capacity before getting a second opinion.
In order not to forget your questions and observations, write them down.
Know your medications
This is very important, in order to avoid drug abuse. Even though it should be customary, but it is not all the time that doctors ask what medications you are taking.
It is because of such a scenario that you must have a list of what you are taking, along with the dosage and number of times a day you take it. If you prefer, bring the actual medication with you instead of a list.
And that includes any supplement, alternative medicine, or over-the-counter medications you may be using.
Come armed with your family history
Quite a number of gynaecological issues can be traced to the genes. Meaning if someone in your family has the condition, either it is obvious or receded in them, your risk factor for that condition is high.
It is because of this fact that you need to be knowledgeable about your family medical history, the conditions, the symptom, how severe or otherwise it is and more.
Please be honest
Some people go to the doctor and hide certain information about their condition, simply because they are embarrassed to discuss it. Please don’t be like that…especially not with endometriosis.
Instead, share all your concerns, the symptoms you have on a daily basis, the ones that affect your sexual life, and the ones which affect your bowel movement. Whatever it is that needs to be said should be discussed; no holding back.
With full disclosure, the doctor is in a better place to offer the kind of help you need. Withholding information harms no one else but you.
Given that these tips have worked for Monica, who is now on the appropriate treatment plan for her, it is surely not a bad idea to give them a trial.
The beautiful thing about these tips is that they can actually be applied to a regular doctor’s visit, in order to get the maximum benefits.
Be your own health advocate.
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