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Health Rincewind on 07 May 2010 04:22 pm

Dealing with health problems

When I had severe trouble swallowing, a friend told me not to fixate on my health problem too much. I indeed didn’t do this, and instead of stopping with my study and focussing fully on regaining my health I decided to both continue my study and work on my health at the same time. I regret this decision in hindsight: the problem was so severe, that the longer it took to work on it, the more damage (from all the coughing) was done, the less likely it was that the problem would ever be fully fixed.

A health problem is like a bug in a computer program: when you don’t fix it immediatly, the problem can ruin the whole experience for you, can grow, and can possibly start to interact with other problems which makes it even harder if not impossible to fix. It is wise to overpower health problems immediatly attacking them with your full capacity: that means stopping doing what you were doing and fully focussing on fixing it with everything in your power (time, intelligence, money, relations (with health specialists), etc). Many people are born with good health and it’s relatively easy to lose it – it should be one of everyone’s top life goals to stay healthy.

It’s useful to find out as much as you can about a problem using the internet and books, so you can ask your doctors the right questions. Doctors don’t tend to like it though if you show you’ve done your research, so be subtle. If it is unclear what the problem is exactly you can use the internet to make a list of possible causes to your problem, and exclude them one by one, this might leave you with your actual problem.

If you cannot easily fix a health problem yourself you should take it to a doctor; a general practitioner or a specialist immediatly (if you can arrange this). Every day for your appointment to be earlier is very important (each day without proper care could make your problem worse), and if the problem is severe enough you can take it to the first aid. You can consult general practitioners that aren’t your own for a small price, so you can get a second or third opinion on a problem, if the first consult isn’t to your satisfaction. It’s also possible to consult multiple specialists for the same problem if you pay the bills yourself (and not leave it to insurance). In order to get to good specialists, it’s smart to exploit your own, your parents’, your family’s or your friend’s relations with doctors, this might work better than being referred to a random specialist by your general practitioner.

Besides letting the doctors have a go at it, there are multiple things you can try yourself to fix your problem. First thing is being more manic: try to find out as much as you can about your problem by (if appropiate) by going over it with your hands and listening to feedback from your body, and looking at it closely (maybe with a mirror), and perhaps even comparing it to photos of the past state. This can give you a lot of usable information for fixing your problem. Second, if there is something that surpresses the problem, for example running, increase this activity and see whether the problem will be more surpressed or even disappear. Third, if you have a problem that is a real bottleneck for your functioning, try to frustrate the bottleneck. This mostly comes down to running and sporting a lot. Write your findings down, and expand your activities based on the feedback information. For my swallowing problem this tactic meant eating a lot for me and pushing my body sportwise. Fourth, try to cycle food/drink products to see whether it influences your problem (whether to try someting like this of course depends on your problem), especially fruit and vegetables, take them in relatively big doses of the same to see whether it helps.

Other things you can do to contribute fixing your problem is asking questions on internet forums and e-mailing doctors, this way you can be helped by others who’ve had the same problem or know something about it, and most doctors are willing to provide information over e-mail. Something else you can try is to contact universities and ask a student to help you, if you need cheap help or someone to take a fresh look. If you are in real trouble, and for example have cancer, you could try writing companies letters in order to get experimental treatments, or take part in trials. If you’re really desperate and you are attractive enough, try to get yourself a partner that is a doctor. And last but not least: if nothing helps, and the doctor can’t diagnose, try to self-diagnose using the internet and order medicines online (be careful here).

It’s wise in general for serious health problems to make an attack plan, where you write down a description of your problem, a list of possible causes (or the cause if it’s known), a day log file, where you write down each day how the problem changed, and what you felt/saw, a list of symptoms, questions you want to ask a doctor, and what you are going to do to treat your problem. Especially the log file is important, this can help to fix the problem much better, because it becomes visible what is changing over time and why.

If you have a health problem to tackle, good luck doing so.

2 Responses to “Dealing with health problems”

  1. on 29 Jul 2010 at 10:43 PM 1.Htbaa said …

    Why not just go to the doctor instead of trying to diagnose yourself?

    Also, at the end of your post. Again, go see a doctor and get diagnosed at a hospital. Not from some medicine student.

    It can get a bit annoying if your doctor doesn’t take your problems very seriously though. Still, they can’t prevent you from seeing a specialist if he can’t diagnose the problem. So you’ve got to be a bit pushy with them.

  2. on 01 Aug 2010 at 5:49 PM 2.Rincewind said …

    The medicine student and self-diagnosis were suggestions for trying if the doctors don’t fix it for you.

    If your general practicitioner won’t refer you to a specialist, I would suggest seeing another general practitioner for a small fee (which is possible in the Netherlands).

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