Don’t take recovery from your accident or illness as guaranteed, as a disabled dentist you have the knowledge to take the pursuit of a cure to the next level.  Never forget who you are.  You are a highly trained health care professional, with the education and background to ask the difficult questions and research opportunities in treatment.  Armed with this knowledge, you can become your own best advocate for recovery.

Basically there are two types of patients. There are the passive ones who do not question the medical professionals who are treating them and the active ones who take an integral role in their treatment and recovery. It is well documented that those patients who are active and involved in their rehabilitation and treatment have much better outcomes.  Patients who become their own advocate,  will not blindly accept the response of  NO from their medical providers. Knowledge its power. Do your own research and honestly communicate with your medical providers.  As a trained professional, you have been taught to be inquisitive and ask  WHY?   You have the basic science education to ask technical questions and understand the science behind the diagnosis. 

When you talk to your medical providers tell them your concerns and desires. Be honest and prepare lists of specific questions to ask. ALWAYS SEEK OUT SECOND OPINIONS. Be suspicious of anyone who discourages them.  Don’t be afraid to travel to other states and seek out the best and most current treatments.  Don’t take this as a recommendation for voodoo or experimental care.  Use your own common sense and make carefully planned and logical decisions regarding YOUR care.  Ask questions and never take no for an answer. Trust your health care team but remember they are only human and can make mistakes. No one is all-knowing, and new treatments are developed everyday. Don’t take information from the web as a last word or as 100% accurate.  Use it as a tool to motivate you and inspire your pursuit of the best and most beneficial care.  Involve your family and spouse with your treatment quest and divide and conquer your disability. You know the importance of being completely compliant with your treatment once you agree on an acceptable plan.  Survive depends on this, and ignoring or avoiding care YOU  have agreed upon will only end in failure.

Write everything down that happens and record what treatments are done and when. A passive patient will take medication with little concern, whereas an active patient will research drug interactions and alternative medication.  By developing a file on your case, presentations to new medical providers becomes efficient and effective.  You will be asked less redundant questions and have more time to ask questions of your own.  The more to the point your file is directed , the better. Details are important , but can be a distraction. Consider having a cover file synopsis with reference to attachments in greater detail. Remember this starts the first day after your accident or illness, and should include your past medical history, lab tests, radiographs, etc.  Ask for written opinions.

Of course there is a limit to any pursuit in this area.  It may be financial or diagnosis driven. We refer here to non-terminal patients with a reasonable chance to survive. What is a reasonable chance?  Only you will know and you have time to think now. As a dentist you have faced many challenges, use you training and life experiences to win this battle.There is no such thing as too much medical knowledge related to your condition. AS LONG AS IT IS ACCURATE. There may be an ART in talking to medical professionals and develop a relationship with yours just like the one your had with your former patients.

We strongly recommend evaluation at a large medical center or specialty center if you are not satisfied 100% with the treatment plan that has been developed for you. Understand that you may end up with the same prognosis and plan, but getting a team together who deals with complex medical problems routinely and is current on new treatments may be vital.  Consider the MAYO Clinic, John Hopkins, Sloan-Kettering, and many others. Your personal involvement in your care may be the difference. Be your own best friend and advocate. REMEMBER THE ONLY BAD QUESTION IS THE ONE THAT ISNT ASKED.

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