Are you ready?
Learning how to manage pain is a process that involves change. When we find that we are experiencing persistent pain it takes a while to learn what is happening. Most people seek medical advice, and this may mean that there is a period of ‘searching’ for cures for the pain. Many people then find that there is a limit to how much medical practice can do for them, and there comes a time when they want to take a more active self-managed strategy. This means they are ready for pain management.
Preparing for change
Living with a chronic condition means that you will have a different role with your Health Care Team than you would have if you had a short-term illness.
Your role in managing your condition will be a more pro-active one where you will be involved in making decisions about many things that affect you, your health care management, your family and your lifestyle.
Every day people are involved in making decisions that will affect how they manage their lives. Learning more about yourself, your beliefs and what is important to you will help you to make choices that are right for you and that you are comfortable with
Deciding what things you find acceptable, and what things are not, will help you with your decision-making.
• Do you prefer a female or male doctor
• would you feel comfortable asking your GP for a second opinion about your condition
• should you find another doctor if you are not happy your current provider
• Should you have a particular test
• How can you make visits to the GP more successful and get better outcomes.
These are all situations that require you to use decision making skills to get the best outcomes available to you. You don’t have to make decisions on your own. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to make an informed decision, you can share the responsibility by working together with other members of your family and /or your care team.
Learning to be more assertive and developing good communication skills will help you feel more comfortable in communicating with your service providers and other people who are involved in your care.
Knowing your rights & responsibilities
Everyone in your health care team, including you, has certain rights and responsibilities that come with being part of the team.
You have the right to access health care providers who know about your illness, or are willing to learn about it, who believe your illness is real, who treat you with respect and dignity and are willing to work with you to find the best treatment and management for your condition.
You also have the responsibility to make sure that you have the knowledge and skills to work successfully with your care team members and to utilize the health care system in the most effective way.
When you engage someone to work with you in a partnership such as a health care team, it is reasonable for you to have an expectation of what that person can contribute to your care. At the same time that person will also have certain expectation of what your role is in the partnership too.
It will be important for you not to have unreal expectations of yourself or your health care providers. Setting realistic goals will be important because your providers do not have a magic cure. They are there to support you and to work with you in managing your symptoms and improving your wellbeing and quality of life.
Things to do.
There are many ways that you can improve your ability to become an active and empowered member of your care team.
• Learn about your rights and responsibilities in the Health Care System.
• Develop new skills to help you communicate better with your health care providers, your family and your friends.
• Learn as much as you can about your condition.
• Set realistic goals that can be achieved.
• Enrol in a course that will help you to learn new skills to take charge of your situation and make informed decisions.
• Ask your doctor to work in partnership with you to manage your condition.
• Plan ahead before you attend appointments.
• Think about why you are consulting a specific health provider and what you expect from them.
• Tell the practitioner why you have come to see them when you arrive and what outcomes you want from the visit.
• Reassess your time with your doctor. Think about ways to improve your next visit so that you feel your consultation was helpful.
• Learn problem solving skills and techniques to manage your symptoms.
• Try not to isolate yourself. Meet other positive people who live with chronic conditions who have things in common with you.
Source: Jenny Faulkner, Consumer Advocate