Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Are you your own best advocate?

A very minor office surgical procedure taught me a good lesson these last couple of days. I had a white bump on my scalp for some time, kept meaning to ask the doctor but forgot because I didn't think it was serious. But it began to grow, and then last weekend it suddenly became tender and felt like a scab trying to come off--only it was the wrong color. So I called the doctor's office, explained I have a history of skin cancer, and I was afraid this would come off before they could biospy it. They gave me an appointment in two-and-a-half weeks. Me: "What do I do if it comes off before that?" Answer: "Call us immediately." That seemed like locking the barn after the horse was gone.
My doctor's office has a terrific web page, with a patient log-in where you can write messages to the doctor, nurses, etc. So I emailed the nurse I usually see, and she was concerned enough to forward my message to the doctor. Upshot: come in today so we can get a biopsy. (All this took several emails back and forth). So in I went, and twenty minutes later I walked out with my "alien" gone. Pathology report in a week, but I'm just relieved it's gone and I don't have to worry about it coming off during the night or when I shampoo or brush my hair.
I know it's a fine line--problem patients are the bane of a medical office, but at the same time, you have to stand up for yourself. I was pleased that I'd taken action and followed up, pushing my case.
I know people who just assume the doctor knows best, don't ask questions, don't understand whatever treatment they're receiving, and also take the word of the receptionist who is a gatekeeper. My advice is to educate yourself (okay, the web can be misleading), ask questions, know what you're talking about and how you're being treated. And when in doubt, follow your instincts.
It worked for me!


Cassy Burleson said...

Yes, as the daughter of a hospital administrator and an R.N., I couldn't agree more. My concern is that my long-time doctor just retired. My new doctor doesn't know that if I complain, it's usually something wrong b/c of said parents and the issue of the worrisome patients. So good for you, Judy!

Cassy Burleson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cassy Burleson said...

You know, I already posted a comment, but it was basically just "attagirl," Judy!

Judy Alter said...

Cassy, I'm the daughter and sister of doctors, ex-wife of one, etc. So I think that's true--my doctor knows if I'm concerned, it's real. Besides, twice I told him skin lesions worried me and he said they were probably nothing but he'd biopsy Turned out to be squamous cell both times.