By Abbie Cornett
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is not easy. Patients are confronted with having to learn a lot of information in a short amount of time. For many, this can feel overwhelming. But, don't worry, this feeling is normal! One of the best ways to feel more in control is to learn as much about your disease and its treatments.
A large part of the confusion patients feel is caused by a lack of knowledge. Because most people diagnosed with a chronic illness don't have a background in medicine or science, this can put them at a disadvantage to understanding medical terms used regarding their illness or treatments. And, while it's your physician's legal and ethical responsibility to inform you about your treatment, it is your responsibility to learn everything you can, including asking questions during appointments.
In the not-too-distant past, patients accepted everything their doctors ordered without question, and frequently without understanding exactly what was happening. Unfortunately, this still occurs since patients often feel intimidated by their doctors, or don't want to take up their time with questions. Don't be afraid to bother your doctor; remember, it's your life! If you are unsure about a medication or a procedure, ask what it is, what the side effects are and if there are any alternative treatments. You can't make informed decisions without possessing the needed knowledge.
Before your appointments, make a list of questions. If you have them written down, you are less likely to forget something. Take a notebook with you so you can write down answers. Having it in writing will help you later if you want to conduct further research.
Patients can only feel in control if they take an active and educated part in their own treatment.