For many women, chronic symptoms send us spiraling into a state of overwhelm. We frantically search for answers for something that is going to make it better or help it make sense. In this state, we are far from ourselves – hysterical and desperate. Shock and fear can easily become our norm. We lose our trust in our body’s ability to overcome. Our feeling of power is lost.
Overwhelm doesn’t just live in our minds. It’s not just an emotional reaction. Our minds are terrible at discerning actual stress and what is perceived. Our anxiety and worry can cause stress to cascade deep into our bodies. By its very nature, overwhelm can add to our illness. So, it’s extremely important to keep our reactions to new symptoms or new diagnoses in check.
When new symptoms start showing up, we are the ones feeling these changes. It is our job to best explain to the doctor what is going on. It is our job to make sure that our voice is heard, and that we are taken seriously. Advocating for ourselves is how we get our voices heard and answers to our symptoms. But how does one go about advocating for themselves in a sea of so many answers?
Turn Off Dr. Google
When symptoms start showing up our first instinct is to search for answers to help silence the mind. Google and WebMD are great resources for finding answers to some of our questions, but not so much at calming the storm that grows as symptoms get worse. These sites can create a tsunami of information that sends us tumbling further down the hole of anxiety. Remember we come to the computer for action, but we don’t leave with it. This information overload can affect our productivity. It can steal away our process of gratitude and blind us from seeing the things that are going right in our lives. With all of our internet searches, our focus is robbed. In the beginning, we only had one symptom to worry about; but after hours of searching, we now have 50 more items to add to the list. These new concerns that have popped up can cause us to want to either ignore what is going on or put them on the back burner creating the perfect disease storm. Something else important for us to remember is that the internet is not taking into consideration our unique physiology or unique story.
Rather than turn to the internet for answers to our symptoms, it is better to write them down. Tracking and logging symptoms will make it easier to create clearer pictures for the doctor. Again, when we push through and ignore our symptoms, we are missing the chance to track important information. Our personal experiences are our first sources of data to prioritize above all else. What happens when we cover up our symptoms – we cover up the signs of what our body is trying to tell us. Without tracking we are so much more likely to be dismissed in the doctor’s office. Unless we can say “this is what I’ve been experiencing and this is what I feel like my triggers are”, or “these are the times that I experienced these issues”, we are less likely to be taken seriously. This goes beyond the day-to-day basis of “I ate this and felt like this.” Instead, track patterns over time for a good six to eight weeks. Become diligent about figuring out what are the things that are bringing about your symptoms. There is always cause and effect. Missing the cause and effect can be robbing you of the answers that you need. Discovering these two is crucial to becoming your own best health advocate. We know our bodies even when the winds change, documenting a clear record of your experience for yourself and your practitioner is going to bring huge clarification.
Test Don’t Guess
If your story is gold, then data has to be our best friend. When we go to our primary care physicians and share with them our symptoms, they run the average blood work and regular run-of-the-mill labs. Sometimes these tests come back normal. Even though these labs come back within the normal range – don’t lose heart. Often our symptoms show up long before labs confirm what’s going on. Don’t ignore your body’s messages – it is trying to talk to you
When looking at the numbers from the labs, what are we looking for? We’re looking for functional data. Functional data means choosing labs in a very different way. We are looking for ranges to be functional; that means optimal for health, not just the run-of-the-mill average that a lab posts as their range for a given blood test. Regular lab ranges are based on the average results of people who come in when they’re not feeling well. Traditional lab testing is comparing our numbers against people who don’t feel well and then we’re being told that everything’s normal. These same tests can be taken, and rather than looking at the normal ranges, functional ranges can be used keeping in mind each person’s biochemistry. When getting testing done at the doctor’s, we want to ask ourselves “are the tests going to give the answers we are looking for?” Doing our homework regarding different tests can change the conversation drastically between us and our doctors. I cannot stress enough the importance of testing instead of guessing.
Don’t Be Afraid to Breakup…
We have all had bad relationships in the past. We can even have a bad relationship with our doctor. Not every doctor is right for every patient – personalities and ideals are important when finding a doctor. We go to the doctor and confide in them and if they aren’t serving us then give yourself permission to break up with them. It is okay to walk away and find a new doctor that will listen to you and work to find health. Finding a doctor who can create an environment that allows you to comfortably ask those embarrassing questions is key.
When looking for a doctor it is good to take an interview approach with them. Doctors have always referred to the people in their offices as patients, but we really are customers. Finding a doctor who we feel comfortable talking with is a real game changer. If we are receiving bad service or don’t feel comfortable with the doctor, then we can take our business elsewhere. We don’t have to accept the way the doctor treats us. Finding someone who can empower you and support your journey can mean the difference between success and disease.
Sometimes it can be exhausting to take a stand for ourselves in times of pain and discomfort – when really we need someone else to be strong for us. But tracking our symptoms and testing will help calm the mind and move us forward on the journey of health. If you have questions or want help learning about the testing we at Radiate Wellness are here to answer your questions. Please reach out to one of our team members and schedule a Strategy Session at https://calendly.com/radiatewellness/15min. Together we can help get you the answers you are looking for.