I have been a healthy person most of my life. I try to eat healthy, exercise daily, and try not to be stressed. In my late 30s, I was diagnosed with chronic allergies. My doctor informed me that I had become allergic to things that grew from the ground, bloomed, or had chlorophyll. Being a native Mississippian where farm living was a way of life, I never heard of allergies with killer like symptoms. Who knew beautiful blooms could leave one feeling deathly ill? The more I dismissed the severity of my diagnosis, the sicker I got. My suddenly hazy, foggy thinking, watery eyed, itchy buzzing ears, hacking coughs that jarred my lungs, nasally headaches, asthmatic breathing bed ridden new world was complicated by my disdain for pill prescribing fifteen-minutes-per-patient doctors.
My odyssey into the world of allergen-free, pollen dodging living included learning the importance of communicating with doctors for optimum health success and using the internet effectively to research all I could. I learned, immediately, that the internet is a powerful tool for patient advocacy but should never be used to replace seeing a doctor. I also learned the doctor-patient relationship is not stressed enough in the medical marketplace. As consumers of services, patients must view their doctors as partners in their healthcare in the era of healthcare reform. As the healthcare industry is being pushed to changing its dinosaur ways of dealing with patients, patients must also be pushed to change how they see the role of their doctors.
Patients must work with their doctors for a healthier, more productive lifestyle. Too often, a patient is looking for a “quick fix” and the doctor is limited on time to “fix” the problem. A doctor’s short-on-time-treating-of-symptoms mixed with a patient’s please-help-me-now-with-a-pill thinking can become an endless cycle of returned visits that can leave the root of the medical problem undiagnosed for years. Those return visits add to escalating medical costs. Medical bills are directly related to over 62% of bankruptcies in the United States.