Coping with a Health Crisis
Unfortunately, I have had some recent practice with multiple health crises or emergencies. I’ve had a couple cases were an issue quickly developed and worsened over a weekend when my doctors were not available. It would have been possible for me to go to an urgent care clinic, but I prefer to see doctors familiar with my health history and complexities so have learned to take quick actions early on a Monday morning for hopefully treating a health issue without a visit to the emergency room.
Please note: If you need to (or are instructed by your physician) visit the emergency room for a health crisis.
Things to consider when seeking emergency care
Here’s some tips and things to consider when facing a health emergency:
- Listen to that uh-oh feeling. I’m not always great at seeing a health problem. Like other people, I may want to put it off or ignore it or hope that it will go away on its own. I’ve learned the hard way that I have got to listen to my body! When it needs help, I have got to get it treated. In my most recent example, I woke on Saturday with a painful lump in my skin. I hoped it would get better, but was pretty certain it wasn’t going to improve on its own. So, I watched it over the weekend and took quick action Monday morning.
- Make an appointment with your primary physician or the related urgent care so they have access to your records. With my history of rheumatoid arthritis, joint replacements, and unusual complications, I find it best to see my primary care physician as she had the most background on everything. If she is not available, I try to get an appointment with someone in the practice. My strategy is to call first thing in the morning. The phone lines open early so if I call early, I can usually get an appointment.
- Make an appointment with the specialist pertaining to your health issue. My latest health emergency involved a skin cyst showing signs of infection (very painful and red). Since I was certain this was a skin problem, I also called my dermatologist early and was able to make an appointment with a doctor in the practice (but not my usual doctor). I also checked that (if necessary) the new doctor would be able to consult with mine since he knows my history best (but of course there are also the records). I actually called before they opened and left a message. Then I called back again after they opened to get the appointment. This time, I decided to cancel the urgent care, since I was confident the dermatologist was the best place for swift and effective treatment. But I think going to both appointments would have been fine.
- If you work, update them on having an urgent health situation. As soon as I got to work, I updated my boss and coworkers that I could need to leave early to get to the doctor as I had an urgent medical issue. I explained (without going into too much detail) that I suspected an infected cyst and needed to address it immediately because of my health risks due to RA. Thankfully, I have an understanding workplace. But it is also personally important to me to keep up with my responsibilities or ask for help. This time, I was well enough to take my computer and plan to work from home.
- Plan to take the time for treatment now (however inconvenient), so it doesn’t cost more time and money later. I am an inpatient patient. I want immediate results so that I don’t have to lose time. But that is not reasonable! So, I have to tell myself that acting quickly now will save me pain, time, and money in the long run. For example, a hospital stay is way more expensive than an office visit to the doctor! I need to take the time now to get treated and heal (that means more resting time!) so that I can save on these future costs if my condition were to get worse.
- Plan ahead for possible future health emergencies. It really helps to have some plan in place for when you may experience a health emergency. For example, know what doctors you can call to get quick appointments and know their phone line hours. Have an idea of what you can do for your work, such as sick time, adjusting your hours, or working from home. I am fortunate to have my husband Richard to help in these emergencies, but it’s also good to have a friend or two that you may ask for assistance when you need it.
We can all agree that health crises are no fun and not how we want to spend our time. But hopefully, some quick action can provide swift treatment and recovery.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?