The Empowered Patient

I just read about the ‘Empowered Patient’ website. I encourage you to check out this website for yourself.
Empowered.  That’s a word that is being use a lot today in many different areas of life. In our context, that of serious, even terminal illness, being empowered has meaning on many different levels.  As I discuss the concept of being empowered as a patient, please understand that I am including family members when situations dictate their participation in the health care of a loved one.

In my opinion, an empowered patient first of all is proactive. He or she is not satisfied or content to let  circumstance dictate how their health care needs are met.  This empowered person gets regular checkups, and shares with the doctor concerns before they become come critical.

An empowered patient is informed.  Just over a year ago I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophogus, a condition that often procedes esophageal cancer.  I knew something about this condition because my father had been diagnosed with it about two hears before he was diagnosed with, you guessed it, esophageal cancer.

Needless to say, I was most upset about my diagnosis.  I remember driving home, trying to see the road through teary eyes,  By the time I reached my house my emotions were under control and determination had set in.  I was determined to become a Barrett’s expert.  I walked straight to my computer and googled ‘Barrett’s esophagus’,  After reading a few websites I knew I didn’t have enough information about my diagnosis.  I needed the actual reports from the doctor who did my actual scope and the pathologist’s report as well.   I called my doctor’s office immediately, made another trip there and within 45 minutes I had those reports in my hands.  I was not content to wait till the next day to get that information.

Over the next couple of days I read, thought, and prayed.  You see, the doctor who did my scope wanted me to surgery as soon as possible to close my haital hernia.  Some of the information I read about that procedure said that was not a fix for Barrett’s esophogus.  Hmmmmmm.

I decided to go to a gastrointestinal specialist.  Within a week I was sitting in his office asking informed questions about my condition and prognosis.  To make a long story short, he did another scope and found no Barrett’s cells at all!!! Praise God.  I will of course have future scopes done, but for now, I am fine.

My point of this story is that because I gathered information, read, and asked question, I did not have stomach surgery that proved to be unnecessary.

An empowered patient is proactive and informed.  More to come.


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