Entering an unfamiliar medical world is beyond scary. You discover symptoms, get some tests, meet with new doctors, and await the final diagnosis. If you’re like I was, you put yourself in denial about the big, scary diseases such cancer, heart disease, HIV. These days there are many scary diseases, but along with all the unknown, comes many talented physicians and hospitals.
It took several weeks until conclusive results came back for my husband’s cancer. It was one of the rarest cancers in the world: angiosarcoma. No wonder it took so long to diagnose in an age when overnight results are anticipated.
One of the biggest hurdles we faced was receiving proper information from the reputable sources. While we didn’t want to travel, his diagnosis required it. We went along with the opinion of our local doctors, and finally, when he was so ill he was on a ventilator, they transferred him to Johns Hopkins for answers and a diagnosis. Had we known more about the medical system, I believe we could have pushed to transfer to a more knowledgeable hospital in a shorter amount of time.
When you are facing an unknown diagnosis, or you have a medical concern, it is important you know that there are options. We live in a country with some of the best technology, physicians, surgeons and medical staff in the world. Most of us live within just a few hours of reputable medical facilities that can provide us with second opinions and the most up to date treatment options.
Whatever medical situation you are facing, second opinions should be a necessity. Do not allow yourself to go with the first doctors opinion. It’s just that: an opinion. Seeing a second doctor, who may have more knowledge of the type of condition you may have, provides you with more knowledge and treatment options. I use the word ‘option’ because dealing with anything medical means that you need research for answers and the latest treatments.
Many health insurance companies cover costs to allow you to see a secondary doctor. If they do not, you may be able to request a special allowance to switch doctors, or seek a new consultation. Despite the frustrating healthcare industry, it is up to us to be pro-active in our situations, no matter how scary they are. If you do not have the financial means to seek out a second opinion, look towards research programs that may offer free consultations, or research non profit groups that may fund your quest for the best treatment options available.
Facing a rare or common disease shouldn’t leave you feeling helpless. It is a scary, unknown journey, but if you are pro-active in your quest, you can find the answers you seek. Ask your doctor for recommended physicians for your medical diagnosis, and often, they will give you a list of reputable peers. Be open and communicative with your health insurance company to make sure that all your consultations and treatments will be covered and get everything in writing: don’t forget customer service agent’s names, and get direct phone numbers and extensions.
I encourage you to seek out more information, because the best thing you can do for yourself is to have options. You are not helpless: just keep walking, keep talking, and look around for your best outcome.