Playing An Active Role in Your Health and Treatment
Hepatitis C treatment can be stressful, and even scary. Some patients have trouble getting their doctor or insurance company to approve treatment, while others worry about out-of-pocket costs and treatment side effects. To manage treatment worries, it's important to play an active role in your health.
So, how can you do this? To learn more about managing hepatitis C, as well as balancing mental health and wellbeing, we asked our advocates to share their advice and experiences. Look below to learn tips for playing an active role in your health:
"Being proactive is important in all walks in life, especially with our health. To be proactive, you need to build a good healthcare team. You are the head of the team. Seek out medical professionals who are qualified for your condition and a good fit for you. Seek credible information about your condition along with treatment and side effects."
"For me, exercise and setting life goals were part of taking control of both my physical and mental health. Even during treatment, I ran or worked out every day. Though, at times, I was more tired and had headaches, I always felt much better after a workout or run and felt I was not losing any ground during treatment. I asked my doctor many questions to understand the treatment, side effects, and risks and was open with family and friends, so the pressures of living a secret life never became a great source of stress."
"In my work as an advocate, peer navigator, and support worker, I always encourage people to be proactive and engaged in their health. In just starting treatment, a common concern people have is over side effects. Having anxiety about side effects can in itself worsen our general health, to include emotional and physical health, as well as sleep habits. We are all different despite, but we all share in the need for having a healthy diet (as much as possible), staying engaged with others (and not isolating), and staying as physically active as possible."
"I play an active role by listening to my own thought life. Then, I can pick and choose how to make healthier choices. I really don't want to use alcohol, eat poorly, and then have more fatigue. Those thoughts get kicked out and I choose better options to take care of myself."
"Being your own advocate in your health is critical. I suggest learning all you can about hep C. Read up on all the new treatment options and know your own personal history of the disease (such as genotype, viral load, etc). By knowing this, you will be more confident in your care, and you will be able to stay up with your doctor on getting treated and follow-up. Also, you may have to fight for your cure. For some, this is because of insurance, or maybe the doctor is not as eager to start you on treatment. But, knowing all you can will give you that fighting edge. Do not take "No" for an answer and if one door closes, you knock on the next, but you do not give up. It is so irritating that some insurance companies play this “game”. I am here to say, you resubmit and resubmit to them until you get the answer you want... treatment approval. Do not get frustrated, just stay in the game."
"It took a while for me to understand what taking an active role in my health really means. Until I was 22, I assumed it meant diet and exercise. Then, as the disease began to show more challenging symptoms, I realized that it also means understanding your condition and the wholistic effects. To take an active role, one should take steps to learn about the virus, how it functions with their body, and how treatment takes on that virus. One should then take that knowledge when considering treatment, and remember that our psychological condition is equally important. A good support network should have an understanding about your health expectations, so they can help them stand up if should they fall along the way."
What are your tips for playing an active role in your health? Comment below!