Judson Haims: Following doctor’s orders all the way through: It’s simple and game changer
Special to The Aspen Times
There are many factors that contribute to one’s well-being and recovery after a visit to see a medical provider. One factor, the one you can actually control, the one that works best is simple: follow the doctor’s orders.
Managing a home care agency places my staff and me in a unique position. On a daily basis, we play an active role in people’s management of their health. While we always try, getting people to follow through with the plan their medical provider has laid out is, at best, challenging.
While I don’t think most people expect to be cured immediately after a medical visit, I do find it interesting how noncomplaint and impatient people are in managing their recovery from an illness or injury.
Quite often I find people who struggle with upper respiratory conditions fail to adhere to their medical provider’s recommendations for treatment. Whether it’s a case of strep throat, bronchitis, asthma or even pneumonia, people seem to frequently stop their treatments too early or not use the medicines their medical providers have suggested they use.
There can be serious consequences of noncompliance with a treatment. When people fail to adhere to the treatments their medical providers suggest, frequently there’s a substantial worsening of condition — sometimes even death.
Not too long ago, I read an article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information that stated, “The treatment of chronic illnesses commonly includes the long-term use of pharmacotherapy. Although these medications are effective in combating disease, their full benefits are often not realized because approximately 50% of patients do not take their medications as prescribed.”
Nonadherence to doctor’s orders extends well beyond that of mediations. Nonadherence also can be associated with diet, smoking, exercise, weight loss and physical therapy.
In my own experience of recovering from orthopedic procedures, I have found that following doctor orders has been challenging at times. Recommendations that had sounded like friendly reminders or even kind suggestions were in fact precise directions intended to be followed.
It may not have been until after my third or fouth knee surgery that I actually followed my doctor’s orders exactly as ordered. Prior, I was impetuous and impatient. I thought I was young, in good shape, healthy, and saw little benefit in waiting to get back on my mountain bike. After all, I’ve always heard that biking was one of the best recovery exercises for the knee.
What I had not considered after the first few surgeries was tendons, ligaments and soft tissue need time to heal. The doctors had clearly told me such but, I felt fine and thought I could advance my recovery by doing more — sooner. Outcomes didn’t work out for me as I had thought.
Don’t assume that if the symptoms have gone away that it’s OK to stop following a doctor’s orders. Finish your antibiotics even though you feel better. Take your cholesterol medication consistently even though you feel fine. And, when your blood pressure suddenly becomes irregular, fatigue and muscle weakness occurs, anxiety and nervousness arise with greater frequency, and memory problems become concerning, it may benefit you to take heed to what your doctor said about not taking and/or skipping your thyroid medication. (We see this occur all too often.)
There are many reasons why people are noncompliant with the treatments their medical providers suggest. Some people may not have the money to spend for treatment while others may choose to stop treatment because they don’t see/feel the benefit(s) of treatment. Sometimes, noncompliance results from challenges in remembering to take a medication on time, skipping doses, or even exercise as directed.
Most of us place our lives and well-being in the hands of our medical providers. Perhaps it may be a good idea to listen to them and follow their medical orders.
Communicate with your doctor(s) and let them know if you have questions or problems with the medical directives or medications they have provided.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale. He is an advocate for the elderly and is available to answer questions. He can be reached at http://www.visiting angels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.