Step 4: Take stock of your health status - search for information on your disease.
What is your healthcare status today - right now? This requires that you be totally honest with yourself and evaluate your overall health situation. It can be that you are doing very well or it could be that things are actually not looking so good. This is not as important as being totally honest with yourself. I believe that the worst sin we commit on ourselves is when we lie to ourselves. We position things as not so bad or it's okay, when really we know deep down that changes are needed.
This is a very important step in the path to empowerment. It is almost impossible to improve your health status if you do not know what your present status is - in other words, to move from here you must first know where "here"is!
This self-evaluation requires work and honesty! The work involves reaching out and finding more about your illness, condition or disease. This effort can be supported by many organizations that can be easily reached through the growing network of websites. In addition, there are a number of bloggers out there that have made their way to patient advocacy and empowerment through their own illnesses and health journies! These people offer great support in the area of their own conditions. Here are just a couple:
1) One example is Diabetes Mine and the work that Amy Tenderich has done in supporting all patients with diabetes. On her blog, there are links to many other diabetes bloggers as well as websites that contain information on the condition, treatment and support. Amy have repeatedly won awards as "best blogger"!
2) A second example is more general concerning Nutrition and Life where Vreni Gurd helps support patients regarding various areas of physical activity and food.
The second part, honesty, is much harder to come to grips with. I can take my own healthcare experience as an example, but in this case let's talk about a hypothetical patient named Mark that has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Mark is 41 and otherwise in great health, except upon his annual physical, his doctor found that his prostate in cancerous. Given the state of the disease and his age, Mark has a number of options. A physician that has partnered with Mark to work in managing his overall care knows and appreciates the dilemma that Mark is in. He can take a less aggressive treatment with very few side effects or can opt for something a little more aggressive but with many long term health implications.
In the end, there is no single right answer, but rather the answer that is best for Mark and his family and one they all can live with. It is up to his physician to identify the pros and cons of all of the options, but in the end, Mark will have to decide. It is imperative at this very stage that Mark does not lie to himself about the nature and state of his disease. Many people do and end up making decsions that work in short term, but lead to lots of problems down the road. It's alright to make decisions based on the short term - as long as you are honest wth yourself that that is in fact the case!