The last 2 and 1/2 months of dealing with a brown recluse spider bit has reminded me how vital it is to be your own advocate with healthcare professionals. Don’t get me wrong… 99% of the medical professionals I know are smart, caring, educated experts in their fields. But they don’t know everything. And YOU are the expert on YOU.
How Advocating for Myself Probably Saved My Leg
That may sound dramatic. But it’s not. If you have a really strong stomach, get on Google and search for images of brown recluse spider bites. I’ve talked to so many people who have lost muscle tissue to bites, had multiple surgeries to remove necrotic tissues, reconstructive surgery, and rehab following a brown recluse bite.
I wish I was kidding. I’m not.
For the first 6 days, I did everything conventional medicine told me to. I took my prophylactic antibiotic prescription and iced on/off every 15 minutes. I washed and applied prescription antibiotic cream every 12 hours.
But as the venom spread through my leg, the pain and the bruising continued to spread and worsen. I was only able to sleep 15-20 minutes at a time. Even with the 800mg of Ibuprofen every 4 hours, the pain was just too intense.
We were desperate to find something to save my leg. After a friend shared her bite experience and what her mother did, we changed our search terms. We finally found answers and an alternative treatment plan.
Activated charcoal is antimicrobial and adsorbs toxins. Applying it to a spider bite pulls the venom out of your leg. Within 24 hours, I was out of constant pain. Within a week, I was sleeping 6-7 hours a night, which makes a big difference in would healing!
Unfortunately, I was still facing the damage from 6 days worth of venom spreading through my leg, but I have not had to endure secondary infection, surgeries to remove necrotic tissue, drainage tubes, or any of the other horrors most people do!
How Advocating for Myself Help Me in the Past
At 30, I was in the middle of a 5-year fight to get cervical cancer in remission. I was taking meds for high cholesterol and chronic rhinitis. I regularly suffered from muscle recovery issues, rheumatoid arthritis flair ups, and memory issues.
Thankfully, I had a great OB/GYN who encouraged me to ask questions. And I did. A lot. Sometimes through tears. Thanks to his answers, I started to do my own research into food as medicine.
I also researched the meds I was taking. I quickly learned that the muscle recovery and memory issues I was experiencing were the result of my statin meds!
Those meds only dropped my cholesterol a little over 40 points. I was still at serious risk of heart attack or stroke. They were NOT worth the side effects.
By learning about how foods effected my body and learning about my body, I was able to drop all the meds and all the chronic disease.
Spring 2019 marked 10 years cancer free. 😀
How You Can Advocate for You
First and foremost, remember that most healthcare professionals work for companies that are pushing them to see more patients to make more money. Your provider isn’t the problem. The system is. Show up to your appointment prepared. Your time is precious. Their time is too.
Remember. They are experts in their fields. You are an expert in YOU. Tell them if you changed your diet. Tell them if you think food, stress, sleep, or some other change in your lifestyle is effecting your health. Help them help you.
Don’t be afraid to disagree. Once upon a time, you had to get second and third opinions for health insurance to cover invasive procedures. That’s not a bad policy! If you disagree, say so. Ask for alternatives.
Never be afraid to follow up. I’m an introvert and regularly think of things to say a day after a conversation. Pick up the phone. Use your providers contact form or patient portal. But ASK THAT QUESTION!
This is your life. You have to deal with the consequences of medical treatment. Always advocate for you!
Questions? Drop me a comment, and I’ll get you an answer!