My Strongest Supporter and Advocate
If you have followed my articles, you know that only a select few of my family found out about my status prior to me. This unusual situation occurred because I was in a medically-induced coma.
Skills and traits of a strong healthcare advocate
When I think about what is needed in a healthcare advocate, several traits come to mind.
These qualities include (but are not limited to) being a researcher, problem-solving, organization, having a strong personality, and being a good communicator.
In my opinion, one of the best characteristics of a strong supporter and advocate is an individual who is willing to do their own research.
This is important to me because I need them to also bring information to the table. It is hard for them to have information to add to our health-related conversations if they will not put some research into it.
Problem-solving and organization skills
Two more characteristics that come to mind are problem-solving and organization.
Problem-solving skills are a drastic need when it comes to being an advocate for any healthcare situation, but especially with HIV.
There are so many expenses and possible assistance programs that it can be a full-time job to sort through it all. I try to be a very organized person. But if I am struggling, there is a strong likelihood that I will not accomplish as much.
A strong personality and a communicator
I also feel that a strong personality and being a strong communicator are extremely important attributes.
Many may think a strong personality is not helpful in the world of healthcare advocacy. Despite this, a strong personality helps the advocate push the patient to prevent them from settling and they push the doctors to do their best for the patient.
A strong communicator can look at all the information and respond to all parties involved. They are also able to discuss all possible options with medical professionals.
By combing these traits, you have somebody who will not simply accept something because the doctor said it.
My sister's help along my HIV journey
A jump start on research
By the time I was able to be pulled out of a medically-induced coma and informed about my HIV status, my sister had already done a ton of research. This helped more than she will ever know about.
I was still intubated, meaning I could not speak. But, she was able to tell me that while I was HIV-positive, my life was not over.
Finding a doctor
As bad as it is to say, I really disliked the doctor I had from the hospital. He was rarely in the office and was never available for emergency appointments.
A quick way to make my sister mad is to refuse to see somebody she cares about when it is obvious that they needed to be seen by a doctor quickly.
This led to doctor hunting and doctor interviews (oops, I mean consultations). I may have been married at the time, but my sister went with me to these doctor consultations.
She was never afraid to ask hard questions and make sure the doctors answered them. It took us a few tries, but we finally found an amazing doctor.
My sister made it all less overwhelming
When it comes to my HIV care, I have a sister and I am not afraid to use her!
But in all seriousness, as firm as she has been with my doctors, she has been nothing but encouraging to me. While receiving my diagnosis still took my breath away, having my sister there to explain what HIV is today and that I will be okay made the blow a little less overwhelming.
Who has been your strongest supporter? What characteristics do they have?
How often does someone offer you unsolicited advice on your health?