Life Happens... Work Around it!

on Friday, June 17, 2011. Posted in Blog

Wayne Brown



Life happens.  In this day of smartphones, a dizzying news cycle, and endless apps designed to make us more productive, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the information avalanche.  This is why we need to be responsible patients, making sure we are actively taking good care of our own health.  Frequently in my articles and speaking opportunities, I remind patients that they need to be their own greatest advocate in the doctor’s office.  That is still very true, but what is equally important is for the patient to be their own best advocate!

As the global economy tightens, the job market gives employers greater ability to expect more from their employees at the same, or even lesser wages.  Still, just because our bosses can demand more of our time and energy, it does not mean that we can offer less at home when with our families, friends, and loved ones.  Now, as if your mountain of responsibility was not tall enough, throw on top of it your medical struggles.  Simply put, something has to give somewhere; but as the patient, you need to make sure that your health is not where the sacrifice comes to be.

Look at your health like you are building a house.  Why do the builders invest so much time in making sure that the foundation of your home is perfect?   Depending on your home, it can take almost as long to set the basement foundation as it can to build the rest of the home.  Why?  Because if the foundation of your home is weak, the rest of the structure can eventually collapse in on itself.  You need to build your life with the same care used to build your home.  The foundation of our lives is our health.  If your health is not well built, or well maintained, it weakens.  The weaker the foundation, the more you are vulnerable you are to stress; making you less healthy.  Before you know it, every other aspect of your life comes down upon you.  Your work suffers, home life is more stressful, and things are generally unpleasant.  When your work suffers, you risk your source or level of income.  When your relationships suffer, your emotional well-being suffers drastically.  Each stress in your life is another major crack in the foundation of your life.  So… lets keep your health in order.

This morning, I was confronted with the importance of advocating to yourself for your own health.  I have a smartphone with a calendar built in, and I also have a calendar on my office wall.  Why?  Certain dates are too important to be trusted to technology alone, and I want to see every important date in my face as much as possible, so I cant help but remember to do it.  One trick I use is that every other Friday, I either have to order my medication, or administer said medication.  Normally, this is easy to remember.  This month, not so much.  Work has been running me ragged, and I actually do have a personal life outside of work – sometimes!  Anyway, as the stress piled up, I forgot that today is “Shot Day.”  Boy, was I was surprised when I was heading to the office today and my cellphone told me I forgot to take my shot before I left for work today!  So what would happen if I forgot today altogether… Would being a day late kill me?  No.  But tomorrow I have a full day planned, and Sunday is Fathers Day.  Whole weekend gone in a blink.  Its amazing how easy it is to forget to do the important stuff that is not as fun to do! It makes me glad that I have reminders in my cellphone for 6am, and then again at 930pm.  As a patient, you do what you need to in order to meet your own medical needs.  After all who knows your better than you do?  As patients, we expect our medical professionals to take care of our health, but if we don’t take care of our own needs, how can we get mad at strangers when our health wanes?   The doctor is healthy, and no matter how much he or she cares, they probably cannot feel your aches and pains!

So how do we advocate for ourselves to ourselves?  #1… TAKE Y0UR MEDICATION ON SCHEDULE!  If you wait until you don’t feel so well, your body already feels sick- it just took a while for you to figure it out!  Why punish yourself?  Just take your meds on time. If your memory is an issue for you, make sure you write reminders down in multiple locations, put your drug where you cant help but find it, post yourself reminders, put it in your cellphone calendar, on the fridge, notes in the bathroom, even a string on your finger if that works for you… whatever you need to do to remember!  What else?  Keep a journal of your symptoms.  If you don’t feel well, keep track of it.  What were your symptoms, when?  Was it in relation to a medical treatment or procedure (or expected treatment or procedure)?  When you go to see your medical professional, make sure you bring your journal and share it!  Medical people are scientific.  Dates and accurate descriptions makes treatment and diagnosis easier for them.  Something that may seem unimportant to us, might be a clue to them- or a sign of some underlying new issue.  True, your doctor might think you are a hypochondriac… but if he or she is thinking that now, it is probably not a new thought; and maybe it is time for you to have a heart-to-heart with your sawbones; or tell your story walkin’… to your new doctor’s office.  It is unlikely that you signed a contract of treatment with your doctor, so you are allowed to find someone who better meets your needs!  And finally, listen to your body when it tells you something is wrong- its not lying!  If you are not feeling well, try to figure out why and fix it.  this doesn’t mean that you take a week’s medical leave because of post-nasal drip.  Lets be reasonable.  Sometimes heroes need to play through the pain.  If you feel lousy and can still gut through work, do it!  Where you can change things up are the less important things.  When you get home from work and your child wants to tell you about their day, you need to listen.  Also very important!  Where you can cut--- sacrifice means that if you can avoid it, skip the errands.  You don’t have to go food shopping today to get a gallon of milk and a stick of butter, or go to the post office for $1.80 in stamps, or, and see Auntie Shirley who you know is going to nag you about finding a husband/wife or how you raise your kids/cats.  That is the kind of stuff that can wait for a better day.  In all honesty, the errands will all go phenomenally easier if you are in a better frame of mind anyway.

So be your greatest medical advocate to yourself.  Take care of your health so you can keep the rest of your life going smoothly, which will naturally lead to better health… what a neat circle.  Do yourself a favor; after all, who deserves one more?

Wayne Brown is the founder of Acromegaly Community; a group focused on patient advocacy, and was the lead writer for the collaborative book Alone in My Universe: Struggling with an Orphan Disease in an Unsympathetic World.  He can be reached at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

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