Author: Robin L Shapiro © 2019
Paying Attention: 5 Tips for Better Health
I love to walk. Although a bad foot has been preventing me from logging my usual 20+ miles per week, today I was blessedly able to do a ‘5-miler.’ I typically use my walk time to call my Mom, sister or far-away friends. Sometimes I listen to the radio (typically NPR) or a book on Audible. Needless to say I am not always paying super-close attention to my surroundings!
Today, after my phone conversation with Mom, I was walking my dogs Lucky and Butters through my Mt Baker/Leschi neighborhood and was startled to see this beautiful heart puddle on the pavement. It took my breath away. But as I walked closer, the heart seemed to disappear. Was it a figment of my imagination? I went back to the spot to photograph it – to prove that it actually existed. As I stepped in another direction, I noticed some cool reflections. It seemed that by moving slightly or looking at it differently, the heart puddle changed. Sometimes not looking like anything at all. Hmmm…paying attention matters! The same is true in health advocacy.
How Paying Attention Pays Off
1/When navigating your health, Be Aware –your five senses can help you describe to your health care provider how you feel and what has happened to your body, whether you are at home, at the doctor’s office or in the hospital. By telling your story, you will help your health care provider figure out what might be going on.
2/Bring someone with you who can also look and listen carefully. A trusted support for you, another person might see or hear things differently. S/he can listen deeply and take notes while you focus on healing or asking questions. Another perspective can help you!
3/Examine your situation from multiple angles. What you see or hear at first might not be your final impression about what you should do. Take time to understand what it is you have to decide. Getting a second opinion is always a good idea!
4/Record what is happening – by keeping written notes, your medical history and current medical issues. Keeping your medical records and a diary of symptoms over time in your medical journey can help your health care professional piece together what is happening to your health. WASHAA has created a Personal Health Record and a Pain Diary to help you keep track. If you would like either of these, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5/Get involved in your health to know what you can do and what might come next. People who are active in their care have better health results and generally lower costs.
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