<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Ten Steps For Health
Syptoms & Signs Diagnostic Difficulty Denials & Delays Conflicting Consultation Treatment & Decisions Concerns & Changes Correcting Crisis Exploding Expenses
           10 Steps For Health
Understand Healthcare
Preventing Trouble
Handling Situations
Careful Planning
Financial Issues
Insurance Issues
Power Philosophy

Perhaps the least appreciated key to good health is your approach to it. It can be hard work, but it is a lot easier before you are sick, and perhaps out of work. It is the most serious business in your life. Manage your health care well and you will be far better.
We want to help, so here is a ladder of a few steps to get you going. This is easiest if you just make it your routine, but even in a crisis many of the same steps apply. And a crisis may not happen quickly, a slow fuse or fast one can be just as serious. This approach is not about a specific disease, but that doesn't lessen its power. It can get you to the right doctors, the best medicines, avoid an operation, and make each treatment count for the greatest good. It can solve a crisis, or better yet prevent it.
Many patients suffer as much or more because they drifted without this plan, as from their disease.

1) What is your Foundation? It's your Biography, which is your Medical Records.
They mean it when they say the devil is in the details. The lawyers say: "If it isn't in writing it didn't happen." Well people are writing a book about you. If you were mentioned in People or Time would you get it and read it? This book has far more effect on you. Get your records, know
them, and use them well. You are legally entitled to all records but perhaps some psychiatric documents. Be sure they tell your medical story accurately. Look for key omissions and missing records. Read them for understanding, and look for recommendations that may not have been carried out. The Rand study says many advised tests are never done. Find out what worried your doctors and what puzzled them? Remember, your records will speak for you where you are not present. They will carry more weight than what you say. A missing record may turn out to be your key missing witness. And once something is written, even when wrong, it is hard to counter. But complaining late is rarely effective.

2) Who’s in Charge? Make sure it is you, and Manage Your Team.
If war is too important to leave to the generals, health is too important to leave to the system and the doctors alone. Even more, it is incomplete. Your health depends on your efforts in some places where your doctors can't help, and for their efforts you are a key partner. You are, mind and body, a missing link in health care. Your team consists of yourself first, your medical professionals, and someone you trust to help you stay true to your health and understand it. You are the CEO. You don't need command of every skill, but manage your team to a good result. You will literally live for it.

3) You Decide Alone: See the Real Benefits and Risks, and Decisions Take Three Steps
When you agree on a treatment you legally decide, not the doctor who recommended it to you. This is tough and unfair. You didn't go to medical school and residency for a decade, after all. But you live with the consequences long after you may stop seeing that doctor. Whether you made the decision after 6 minutes understanding it or 6 months, in the long run getting the best result is the only standard that matters. So get informed, insist on it, and make a real choice. Don't just go along.
First, learn all you can. Second, get opinions and redo your research until there is no more left to learn. This is the step that should take you from intellectual understanding to real understanding. Expect differing recommendations and realize often there is not one clear choice. Third, make a decision not just about a shot or an operation, but about the whole affect on your life. Have a comprehensive battle plan to help your health and life. That is the Decision Three Step.

4) Research, Legwork, and The Second Opinion: Defining Your Problem
The first Decision Three Step:Research is learning about your disease. The internet is one good tool and another is support groups about your problem. . Legwork is talking to others who can help you understand what you learned, and it is findng people who have been through it, both good and bad results, and put a real experience on what you read. Don't be shy about these steps. If your health is worsening, you can't do enough to get informed And always get a second opinion, but is not just a confirming statement. More importantly it should brief you and teach you about your options, your decisions, and whether you have enough information to make the best decision. It is a platform to let you ask about what research and legwork taught you. Make it independent if you can, from another group, or if you have the time another institution. And take notes, this stuff is hard to remember. Plus note taking will get you taken more seriously.

Deciding Opinions: Understanding and Cross Checking your Situation.
Decision Three Step: Two. This a process, more than an opinion. It may require several opinions. You often don't need that. But, with critical health issues, it may be the only reasonable way to make the best decision. Here you are the leader finding experts to enable you to make the best decision. You should understand not just your choices, but how well treatments are understood by medicine. Learn not only the complications but how much they could affect your life, but which are irreversible even if unlikely, and other important matters.

6) Shift the Odds: Prepare Your Plan, Prepare Yourself
Decision Three Step: Three. Take all you have learned into account. Are you sure you can't learn more. The extra effort often wins the game. Consider the issue broadly, not just the treatment and recovery but the effect on your lifestyle, your family, your work. How can you plan for the best long term health? Then, what can you do to make your treatment have the best outcome?
Write out your diseases, treatments and risks concisely. Put in your doctors and medications. Put it where your key family members can get it in an emergency, and go over it with them. This helps you think out the plan for clarity, too.
Good medical care is not a guarantee, but it moves the odds your way. Maybe they will move a little, and hopefully a lot. Your job, like a football team, is to fight for every inch. And here is the point: the more the odds shift to your side, a little or a lot, the more effective you body's healing is. And all treatments depend on it. Your body has medicines in it we can't imagine yet, and healing we can't do without. So shift the odds, and strengthen the team, to win.

7) The Main Event: Know the Expectations, Check Your Goals.
Here, we are focused on key moments in treatment. Here the medication or operation offers a leap in progress, but with extra risk as well. The details vary, but these times are the hinge of care. You want to focus on them fully to get the best progress with the lowest number of problems. Identify the benefits which you should get, and list the risks. It's important to value the risks, based on how they will affect your function in your life. A low probability risk that can have a substantial bad effect on your life is still a very important consideration.

8) Complete the Care: Recovery needs Pacing and Adjustment
Now, you have made through a high-risk treatment, and things should get better and easier, right? Remember, that treatment is usually only a part of what you need. You may improve or even remove some single problem. But you have to support your body in healing, to recover from both the treatment and the injury the treatment was aimed at. And with a good result, be careful. The star patients can be the most dangerous, because they take risks that lead to recurrence or reinjury.

9) If Things go Wrong: Assessing the Problem, and What To Do Next.
Most campaigns have setbacks, and medical care is prone to them.. So be on the lookout for them and use two approaches. Keep in your mental list what could go wrong and how to avoid it. These are your commandments, so follow them. If some problem arises, don't repeat what you did to cause it, but avoid worsening it. Of course, contact your doctor.

10) Never, Never Again: Learn to Avoid a Relapse or Progression of Your Problem.
While it seems obvious that we don't want to repeat a problem, it can be surprisingly easy to forget. Especially with the best results, you tend to believe things are fixed, that they won't come back. But often the opposite is true. Medicine often cannot restore you to how nature made you. Nor can medicine stop or reverse many processes of wear on the body over time. Even a fall or other accident may be only the straw that broke the camel's back, had not the forces of aging made it harder to take. So with any gains from treatment, make a resolution that you will not lose the gain. Not only do you want to avoid the problems again, but retreatment often does not work as well as the first treatment.

© PowerPatient, Healthcare-Connect, FIND, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006