Episode 313 Ann Hester Patient Empowerment: A Guide for Veterans’ Health Transcript

This transcript is from episode 313 with guest Ann Hester.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio.

And now let’s get on with the show.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today my guest is Anne Hester. Anne is An internal medicine physician with over 30 years of experience with direct patient care. And she’s also the author of the book, uh, Patient Empowerment 101, where she helps readers cut their medical bills and think like doctors so that they can get the treatment that they need.

Um, and I brought her on the show today because there’s so many veterans who are discouraged by the medical system, especially at the VA. Um, but they may get better [00:01:00] results if they know how to talk to their doctors more effectively. And so I wanted her to come on to share some of the tips and strategies that she shares in her books.

Uh, so that way we can hopefully address the, the doctors next time we go into a doctor’s appointment. Um, And, and talk to them more effectively. So that way we can actually get the care that we need. So with that, welcome to the show, and I’m glad to have you here.

Ann Hester: I am excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. Um, before we get into the episode, uh, just kind of want to get a little bit of your background. So for anyone who’s maybe not familiar with you, could you tell us about yourself?

Ann Hester: So I am, as you mentioned, I’m an internist. That is the type of doctor that adults would go to see.

Pediatrician is where a child would go, and an internist, or an internal medicine doctor, is the primary care doctor. It [00:02:00] goes beyond primary care because of course if you’re hospitalized, that same doctor can take care of you in the hospital. So basically we’re adult doctors. So I went to medical school a few decades ago in Memphis, Tennessee.

And I have always had a passion for empowering people. I actually started writing when I was a… third year medical student because I saw so much unnecessary pain and suffering. It was just incredible. And I just felt a call way back then to start trying to educate people. And I’ve been trying to educate people for the past two decades.

Scott DeLuzio: To me, whenever I go to the doctor, whether it’s the VA or any, Medical treatment. It could be the dentist or, uh, you know, going to my, my primary care or, you know, VA appointments or anything like that. Um, I think something is missing in the minds of a [00:03:00] lot of doctors that are out there. Um, they don’t necessarily see the patient as the customer, as like the, the person who, that they’re, they’re trying to help.

Um, yeah. And, and considering all of the things that could be going on with this person, and, um, you know, they, it’s, it’s almost like a chore to go to some of these doctors and, you know, it really shouldn’t be, it should be so much easier. Um, and I think part of what we’re going to talk about today is going to be how to make it easier, you know, know how to talk the doctor’s language and, and, and that type of stuff.

And, and I think that’s, um. Really going to help people in terms of getting the care that they’re, they’re looking for, right?

Ann Hester: No doubt. We have had a very paternalistic healthcare system. The doctors have been on this level and doctors have said, this is what you need to do. And the patient is supposed to be on this level and say, yes, ma’am, [00:04:00] or yes, sir.

And that unfortunately is how our healthcare system has been. You’re right. It’s not right. Patients are the ones whose lives are on the line. It’s not just about how much education we’ve had. Well, yes, we do go to school a long time and we do have special training, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that person sitting on the other side of the examining room table is really what it’s all about.

And with the stress of medicine, which can be enormous, sometimes doctors forget. You’re absolutely correct.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, that’s great. And I want to get into this a little bit more, but first we’re going to cut to a quick commercial break. So stay tuned. So, Anne, I want to talk to you about your book, um, and in your book you talk about crafting a one minute elevator, elevator speech for doctors, um, that we can use when we go into [00:05:00] our appointments for, uh, whatever it is that we’re going in for any, any kind of troubles that we might be having.

So how can. Veterans use this technique, this elevator pitch technique to get across their, their medical needs more efficiently to their doctors. So that way, the, the doctors are able to get back into treating, uh, without digging to figure out what the issue is.

Ann Hester: Let me give you a little bit of background up until January of this year, Medicare and a lot of other insurance carriers mandated that doctors document Some combination of eight elements of what we call the ACPI, the History of Present Illness.

This was a mandate that went on for a very long time and it just ended. Now those eight elements were used to look [00:06:00] at the severity, how much time a doctor really needed, the complexity of the care. So for instance, if a doctor billed for a high level and only documented one or two of those elements, the doctor could be charged with insurance fraud.

That’s how significant these elements are. So even though they’re no longer mandated, they’re important for people to know because aside from The insurance reimbursement. They’re significant because they help a doctor pinpoint what’s going on. So there are eight elements, and if you have a pen and paper, please write them down.

The first one is context. What was going on when you noticed the problem? For instance, you might have lived in a heavy sofa. an hour or so before you noticed that your back started hurting. You might have been walking down the street and perhaps you’re [00:07:00] walking more than usual when you develop shortness of breath.

So the context tells the doctor a lot. The next is character. Let’s say that you develop pain in your chest. That could be due to anything from heartburn to a heart attack or even an aneurysm. So there are mild things, benign things, and there are potentially rapidly fatal things that can cause chest pain.

So if you can describe the character that helps a doctor, for instance, most of us have had heartburn. It’s a burning sensation. That’s somewhat different than the textbook elevator sitting on, the elephant is sitting on my chest sort of thing that we often hear of a person having a heart attack.

Sometimes people describe a squeezing, pressure type sensation. They may notice that it’s a sharp sensation. So think of some [00:08:00] terms that describe what you’re feeling. And so the character… will also help your doctor. Another thing is the location. A person can say, hey doc, I have belly pain. That doesn’t mean a lot.

The upper abdomen has the stomach and the pancreas. The upper right has the liver and the gallbladder. The lower right has the appendix and so on and so forth. So be specific. If you say to your doctor, Doctor, I have pain in the upper right abdomen, right below my rib cage. That is going to make him think far more along the lines of gallbladder or liver or maybe the pancreas or even the stomach since it’s so close versus Acute Appendicitis.

So if you can be specific, as specific as you can, that is going to [00:09:00] help your doctor as well. The next issue is the severity. Doctors rate the severity of a problem on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very mild, maybe negligible. And 10 being, oh my gosh. So if you have very mild pain, you may say it’s 1 or 2, versus, this is excruciating, I’ve never had anything like this, you may say 9 or a 10.

And be very careful about how you put this together. I’ve had patients say, my pain is a 10, but I’m in the hospital room with them, and they’re texting, watching TV. That’s not a ten. So you want your history to be credible. You want the doctor to fully respect and appreciate what you’re trying to say. So only use a ten.

If you’re using a ten, you should be arriving on the floor in pain. The next issue is timing. Each time the problem [00:10:00] occurs. How long does it last? For instance, every time I have abdominal pain, it lasts five minutes, five to seven minutes. This is different from the next element, which is duration. How long have you endured the problem?

For instance, you might have had abdominal pain off and on for three months. You have endured it for three months, but each time It occurs. It only lasts a few minutes. Then we have associated signs and symptoms. When you have the problem, can you associate anything else with it? For instance, if you have chest pain, do you ever break out in a sweat?

Do you have nausea? Do you feel short of breath? If you have abdominal pain, do you throw up? Do you have diarrhea? Think about other things associated with the problem.

And then we have [00:11:00] modifying factors. What makes it better or worse? If you say, well, I have this really severe headache at times, but I take a Tylenol and I lie in a dark room and the pain goes away. That says a lot. If you say I’ve tried pain medicine. That I had left over from my surgery a couple of months ago, nothing helped, it was excruciating pain, that says a lot.

If you say, when I’m walking, after I walk the first block, then the chest pain comes on, that’s the context, but it’s also something that modifies it. It makes it worse, it brings it on. And so, we have the context, the character, the location. The severity, the associated signs and symptoms, the duration, and the modifying [00:12:00] factors.

Um, and so, you need to consider all of those things and think of a mnemonic. So, let’s say that you work in marketing for an NFL team. So, a stadium is something that… means something to you. Let’s say that you live in Ohio. You like Cleveland. So if you take the first letter of all of those, you could develop a mnemonic.

Um, let’s say CCL, um, Cleveland Cavaliers, CCL, Stadium. So that’s the one that I created. CCL S for severity, T timing, A associated signs and symptoms, D duration. I and you have nothing to do. They’re just part of the mnemonic, kind of a rhyme there. And M, modifying factors. [00:13:00] So think of something that is going to be meaningful to you.

So when you’re driving down the street, let’s say that you develop a problem, you’re driving to the doctor, in the car, You can pull all these things back up and pull together your one minute elevator speech. So you go into the doctor, and you hit bullet point after bullet point, and you can do that in less than a minute.

The doctor will probably ask, Are you in the medical field? But more importantly, the doctor will be able to rule this out, rule this out. It can’t be this. It can’t be this. And so the doctor… can hone in on the most likely diagnoses. So, in other words, there will be less of a need for unnecessary tests.

Expensive. Unnecessary procedures. Potentially dangerous. Unnecessary prescriptions. Expensive. Can interact with other things. If you don’t need it, you don’t want it. And so when you walk into the doctor’s [00:14:00] office or you’re in the emergency room, whatever medical situation you’re in, if you’re able to give that concise one minute elevator speech, you will help that person diagnose you quickly and

Scott DeLuzio: efficiently.

And I think that it’s especially important to have this. Type of format in the back of our heads. And I totally agree that, you know, whether it’s, uh, you know, some sort of mnemonic device that we come up with to help us remember this, or we write it down, we have it in our phone so we can take a look at it and you know, whatever it is, whatever you need to do so that you, you can remember this for the next time you are interacting with a doctor.

I think, I think it’s really important because we usually only get to see our doctors for a few minutes. Um, and. In that time period, you, you have to deliver whatever information that you can for them to be able to make the diagnosis. And if they’re, if, like you were saying before, if you say, Oh, I have, I have stomach pain [00:15:00] and you know, you’re, you’re describing this whole general area.

I mean, that could be anything from, you know, like you said, an appendix to your gallbladder to your, something in your intestines or a whole wide range of things. And, um, That each one of those things has its own probably set of criteria for the doctor to go through to say, Is it this? Is it, you know, how do I eliminate that?

Um, you’re wasting time. Um, because the doctor only has a certain amount of time to figure that out. Right? Um, now, after we give that elevator speech, how can we, Make sure that the doctors really do understand the problem so that way we can receive the appropriate care.

Ann Hester: Ask. Ask the doctor if there’s anything important that you left out.

Most likely the doctor is going to come back and ask you something specific if you want something. But certainly ask if there’s any other information that will help him help you. Right.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And [00:16:00] that’s important too, because, um, sometimes, especially when you’re dealing with people on the higher end of that pain scale, you’re not necessarily thinking quite as clearly.

Um, so you may have left a few things out. And so, um, there may be, you know, that, that path where, where it could be this one diagnosis or it could be this other diagnosis. Um, and it depends on the answer to this one question. So yeah, ask the doctor, you know, what, what can I do to help? Come to this conclusion.

And, uh, uh, I think that that definitely will, you know, help get you moving in the right direction. Anyways, I’m sure more tests might be needed just to confirm, uh, you know, whatever the suspicion might be, but, um, at least you’re not doing unnecessary tests to test for things that, you know, right off the bat is not going to be, uh, one of those, those, uh, those things.

So I want to get more into this in a little bit, but, uh, we’re going to cut to a quick commercial break. So stay tuned. So, Anne, all of the stuff that we were just talking about, those, those eight points, uh, that we [00:17:00] should go in, uh, to have that elevator pitch, uh, when we’re talking with our, uh, doctors, sometimes that might be difficult to remember, uh, all eight of those things, uh, even with a mnemonic device, sometimes you might be dealing with, uh, you know, severe pain.

It’s just really hard for you to keep all of that stuff straight in your head. Um, is, is there, Any kind of easy way that we can, we can keep track of this stuff. So, so it makes it easier for us to provide this information to our doctors.

Ann Hester: Absolutely. Write it on a sheet of paper. So, doctors are so used to seeing big stacks of information.

Sometimes patients walk into the doctor’s office, You’re on my medical records! Doctors don’t have time to read that. So if you walk into the office with one sheet of paper, with all these bullet points, your doctor’s going to smile. So by all [00:18:00] means, that’s a great way to reinforce. Just in case you forget it.

A single sheet of paper. With the bullet points would be wonderful.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s perfect. And, um, and I believe we were talking earlier, uh, but I believe you said that you have forms and things along those lines that people could download and use those forms as well to help facilitate some of this, right?

Ann Hester: Yes.

In my book, Patient Empowerment 101, more than a book, it’s an adventure, there are web pages. And so you just go to the website. internal to the website. Only people who have a book will have access to those internal pages, but they can download a list of frequently asked questions for common conditions, chest pain, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, shortness of breath, a variety of conditions.

All they have to do is click, download it and answer the question. So when they walk into the doctor’s office, [00:19:00] they can have that in hand also, and that can go a long way. And that’s particularly important if you’re a caregiver. You can prepare in advance for those visits by downloading these forms and going through them before you even go to the doctor’s office, and that will help the doctor a tremendous amount.

Because we all forget things, but this kind of information could be invaluable in a medical visit.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. Um, the, having that information, especially those, uh, common questions, um, just so you’re prepared, you, you go into the appointment and, and you know, the types of questions anyways, they may not be reading from the same exact sheet of questions, but.

You know, the types of questions that they’re going to be asking. So, um, you mentioned something, especially with caregivers. Um, it’s good to have them ask those questions of the person that they’re caring for before going into these appointments because they may not have even thought to ask some of these [00:20:00] questions, uh, of these people.

So, um, that at least gets them up to speed of, uh, all right, now, now I kind of know what’s going on with this person. Um, no, no, please go ahead.

Ann Hester: You made a good point that doctors might not be reading the same form. Um, basically, there are specific things that doctors need to know about common things. Chest pain, abdominal pain, and so forth.

Those things are helpful. But if a person hasn’t thought about those things, it can take a long time. We talked about how the doctor might not have time. I once timed a lovely patient of mine. I asked a yes or no question. It took her 10 minutes and I just let her keep going because I wanted to see how long it was going to take her to answer a yes or no question.

When you’re sitting on a cold exam room table, you’re uncomfortable. You take a [00:21:00] circuitous route to answer the question. Well, you know, Uncle George was in town. I remember we drove here and I think it has. That’s how people think when you’re in with a doctor who may have 5 minutes face to face with you, you don’t have that time.

And so if you are adequately prepared before you step foot in the doctor’s office, when he asks those very commonly asked questions, you can say, yes, no,

Scott DeLuzio: That’s perfect. Now, this is great information to have if we’re dealing with something that we need to have addressed by a doctor. Um, a lot of people face chronic illnesses, other, you know, things that they, they are experiencing.

Um, And it could be challenging for them. Um, how can they, how can they thrive? How can they push through these, these illnesses and other things that they have and actively, [00:22:00] uh, participate in their healthcare, um, by, you know, maybe doing some of these steps that you already mentioned, but are there other things that they can do, um, to help them thrive through, through the issues that they’re dealing with?

Ann Hester: Absolutely. Before you see your doctor, develop a list of questions and prioritize them. You may go to see the doctor. You may have 10 things you want to know. The doctor has a patient in the next room who might be having a heart attack. He has to leave. So make sure that you have a list of what you need to know, what you want to address.

in order of importance. In addition, ask your doctor what he or she recommends for additional information. There are certain sites like the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society. There are certain extremely reputable sites where you can go to learn. Don’t go into a doctor’s office [00:23:00] with a couple of inches of things you printed from the internet to ask questions.

Know exactly what you’re looking for and ask the doctor. What should I be looking for? What’s important? If you have a condition like congestive heart failure, an extremely common condition, Ask the doctor what you need to do to manage it at home. When you gain weight, what are your action steps? Doc, I gained 3 pounds in 2 days, what should I be doing?

Sometimes the doctor will tell you if you gain X amount of weight, take an extra diuretic. If this is going on, do this. Call me for this. So, sit down with your doctor and ask for an action plan. If this happens, what should I do? What’s my threshold for calling 9 1 1? What should I do when this happens? Hey, I often notice this is going on.

Is this a concern? So [00:24:00] you want an action plan for your conditions. If you have diabetes, keep a log of your blood sugars and also keep a log of what you’re eating because your blood sugars will certainly fluctuate. If you have high blood pressure, You need a home blood pressure cuff. Sometimes you might go to the doctor and the pressure can be sky high, but it might be because you’re nervous.

And when you go to see the doctor, take your cuff with you to make sure that your cuff is fairly accurate. Because if you bring in a list of readings, on one end of the spectrum and all the doctor’s readings on another end of the spectrum. The doctor’s going to need to know how much of this is real. So write down your blood pressure reading at different times of the day.

When you wake up, mid afternoon, mid morning, night time, so forth. You don’t have to do multiple times every day, but have enough reading so the doctor can see if there’s a trend. You might notice that in the mornings your blood pressure is particularly high. [00:25:00] He might want to increase the nighttime dose.

acting drug or increase your morning dose. It depends on what medicines you’re taking. So you’d be prepared for each visit and make sure that you and your doctor have developed steps to take for your conditions and you know, where to go to get more reputable

Scott DeLuzio: information. I think one of the things that you just said, um, talking about having that action plan, um, is really important.

Um, what, uh, when X happens, then you do Y or, you know, whatever. Um, uh, in my, my own personal experience, um, it was one of those things where. I didn’t necessarily even think of me needing to do some of the things that the doctor was recommending, but the doctor provided me with this information and it gave me like in the back of my head, I’m like, okay, [00:26:00] now I can pay attention to if I’m feeling this particular kind of.

pain or sensation, uh, then it’s, it’s actually kind of an emergency situation. I need to, you know, get myself to an emergency room as opposed to, oh, I’ll just, I’ll just take a, you know, another, you know, Advil or whatever, and just, you know, try to, try to wait till it passes or whatever. Um, and so. Having that information is, is really important.

And so, um, yeah, asking the doctor, um, you know, what are the, the action steps? When do I need to call you? When do I need to, uh, you know, seek emergency care or, you know, things along those lines, um, I think that that’s important. And I think. Going back to what you were saying about, you know, just writing things down, like when, but when you’re going into the appointment, uh, that that’s always going to be important.

But I think even just bringing in a notebook to write down the things that the doctor is telling you, because sometimes they may be giving you a ton of information. of, uh, you need to take this [00:27:00] medication at this time for this, this dosage. And, uh, you know, this is what this is for. If you’re feeling this or whatever, it’s a lot of information.

And by the time you get home, you might have forgotten some of the stuff or confused some of it. So writing all that stuff down while you’re there with a doctor and you can double check and say, did I get this right? Does this sound right? And they’ll confirm or deny it or whatever. Um, and then. You’ll have the right information.

And I, I had a experience with this recently. Um, my, my wife took our dog to, uh, to the vet. Um, I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s similar enough where, where, yeah, exactly. You know, so she took the dog to the vet and, um, the vet had told her something about the treatment that was, was happening.

And when she got home, I asked the same question about that treatment. And she. It took her a minute to remember what the vet had said, but you know, if you have it all written down, uh, then you can just look at it and be like, yeah, no, this is exactly what the vet said, because I [00:28:00] have it right here written down and there’s no question about it now.

So I, I think that this type of advice is just, I think, um, really basic, but it’s, it’s important because not a lot of people, not everybody does it. And, and I think it’s good to get that out there.

Ann Hester: It is very important and it’s certainly worth having, um, I like to tell people to create their own medical record.

So yes, your doctor has one, but one of the chapters in my book talks about, you know, the medical records and, um, the significance of that. you might go out of town, you might have a different doctor. If you’re going to wait for the old records to arrive, you could be waiting a long time. If you want to see a specialist and the specialist needs to wait for the records to arrive, you might need to reschedule.

So I tell everybody have your own copy of personal health records. And I prefer [00:29:00] like the three ring binder. Certainly. Apps are good, and if you have a portal with your insurance company, that’s great, but if you change your insurance company, will you still have access? So if you have your own physical copy, you can take it.

From place to place to place. So if you go to see a cardiologist, or a lung specialist, or any kind of specialist, or any new doctor, one of those sections, if you get like a three ring binder and the tabs, one of the sections that I tell people to have is one for lab results. Another is your past history.

Another is correspondence. So you can open it up and it will be set up just like a doctor’s. Medical record is set up. And in that medical record, your personal medical record, then you would have all of your visits, this date, this doctor, it’s just the outcome. That’s the sort of thing. Also, those are the sorts of forms that you could download, um, through, um, Patient Empowerment 101.[00:30:00]

But I do strongly recommend that people have a copy of records, but also have a one sheet page with your diagnoses. Don’t just depend on all of these records because doctors don’t have the time to read them. Have a one sheet. Um, page. A lot of people are old enough to remember the American Express commercial.

Don’t leave home without it. That’s what I say about your medical records. You could be going to the grocery store, end up in the emergency room, and your ER doctor is not going to know your history. It’s not going to know your medication allergies, your, your surgeries. Surprisingly, some people may have a surgical scar, but surgeons with this, um, I don’t remember.

All of those things are important. And so I recommend. a one sheet mini record. And actually, um, you could go to Patient Empowerment 101. And there’s a free download for a mini record. You just [00:31:00] print it, and it has, use the front and the back, and it has all that information. And you fill it out, keep it in your wallet.

So no matter where you are, you just pull it out. And the doctor has a world of information that can go a long way. in keeping your care cost effective

Scott DeLuzio: and safe. That’s perfect. And I want to get more into this, uh, after the break, but, uh, we’re going to cut to a quick commercial here. So stay tuned. So Anne, you were talking before the break about the.

medical records and, um, you know, some of the tips and, and stuff for keeping the, these records. And I want to get a little bit more into that kind of more veteran focused, uh, service member focused on keeping those records and the importance of keeping those records from your time in the military service.

Um, from my perspective, um, and I know a lot of other people as well. Um, we may have. Gotten an injury or an illness or [00:32:00] something while we’re in the military, which led to lifelong, uh, issues later on. You know, back issues, uh, you know, leg, knee, hips, ankles, tho, those types of things like injuries to those where now, We’re walking around like we’re, we might only be in our thirties or forties, but we’re walking around like we’re 80 and you know, we’re, we’re feeling all of these pains and we go to the VA, try to get the disability, uh, you know, benefits and things along those lines.

But if we don’t have the records that prove that this. was something that happened during our military service. A lot of times it’s very difficult. Um, and so I wanted to talk more specifically about, uh, the veterans and how, uh, when they’re in the service, they can keep track of all of these records. Um, uh, I think.

First off is, uh, taking your, your physical [00:33:00] medical record, uh, the, the folder that you have, every service member knows what I’m talking about. Um, with all of your, your medical records in it, take all the pages out of there and make a copy of them. Keep them for yourself in a binder, kind of like you were talking about.

I think that that’s a great suggestion. Um, but even um, Go a step further and make a backup of that scan those pieces of paper into your computer so should something happen to that binder you lose it or God forbid a fire or something like that and it burns up you you have those records someplace else in some sort of backup and Save them in several locations, you know, have a external hard drive from separate from your computer, have, you know, a cloud storage somewhere you have all of those files someplace else.

Um, and if you’re already out of the military and you don’t have those records, I believe that you can request those records [00:34:00] from. I’m not entirely sure where, but I believe the National Archives is one place that you can get them from. Um, and I know, only know this because I’ve requested my grandfather’s service records a while back from his time in the Navy during World War II.

And there were some medical related files in his records. Um, may not be a complete medical record, but there’s, there’s stuff in there at least. Um, so, so you can request that stuff as well. So for the, the veterans who. Who might be like, well, I don’t have that. I didn’t do that. So now I’m out of luck. Right.

But, um, you might be able to get some of that stuff still. Um, and I think that’s, that’s just good to have all of that in addition to your civilian medical records, because, uh, now you have the complete picture of your whole medical history, right? Um, do you have any other. Tips or tricks that you might have come across that might be useful for people in these situations?

Ann Hester: I would say whenever you are diagnosed with a condition or whenever you see a doctor, write down the doctor’s [00:35:00] name and the date of the visit and the diagnosis. Because if you’re ever in a situation where you need some records and you were in the service for a long time, if you could pinpoint and say in 2021 I went to the VA in this city and I saw this doctor, it might be easier for them to pull that up than saying I was in the service for 20 years and at some point I was diagnosed.

So be as specific as possible and that goes back to having your own personal record and documenting every visit with your physician. Yeah,

Scott DeLuzio: and having that. Summary sheet almost of all the diagnosis that you’ve received. Um, and, and you can go back and create the summary sheet from, you know, any records that you may have from way back.

You know, in your, your life, um, and create this sheet. So that way, when you’re asked, do you have, uh, any of these types of conditions? So a lot of times you forget because it seems like it’s such a [00:36:00] minor thing. Something that happened 20 years ago, you forget about the, you know, the. The doctor’s visit that you had 20 years ago.

I don’t remember all of my doctor’s visits, but if I had it written down on a piece of paper, I’m going to remember it. Um, and so that way you can go back and refer to it. I think that’s, that’s just a great piece of advice there. Um, kind of switching gears just a bit. Um, and I know, so you as a physician and also the author of Patient Empowerment 101, um, I’d like to get your point of view on how veterans can be their own advocates, uh, to make sure that they’re receiving the, the proper care.

Um, I know we talked about, you know, going in with that elevator pitch and, um, you know, making sure that they get the right diagnosis, but there’s other things that they can do to make sure that they’re getting the, the care that they need, uh, while they’re going to the VA or any doctor for that matter.

Ann Hester: I think that there are several things, and [00:37:00] that’s pulling some of this together.

Number one, gain the respect of your providers. Technically, every person who walks into the doctor’s office should get the exact same treatment and the exact same level of respect. But realistically, When a doctor knows that you are on top of things, sometimes that works to your advantage because the doctor might be more thorough dealing with someone who obviously knows a lot about what’s going on than someone who is not well informed.

Also, take someone with you. It’s very easy to forget things and if the doctor is used to you’re bringing your spouse in or your child in each time you come, that’s also reinforcement because that also lets the doctor know, okay, I am not only taking care of this patient. But the family member is noting the care that [00:38:00] I am giving.

Another thing is always have your records when you go someplace new. Always be prepared for visits. So when you walk in and the doctor sees Your name on the schedule, the doctor is going to be elated. This person is efficient, I can understand what she’s saying, and just have the feeling I can fix the issue in a timely way, feel good about the care that I rendered, and be able to go on to my next patient, and feel good at the end of the day, versus picking up a record and saying, Oh my gosh.

she’s back or he’s back. And I’m just being honest. That happens. It does happen. Doctors are just as human as everybody else. And if they’ve had a lot of bad experiences, they may not be thrilled to see a person’s name on the list for that day. Also, always know where you can go for a second opinion [00:39:00] or for additional information.

For instance, asking the doctor, where do you recommend that I go to learn more about my condition? So, when you have this information and you’re empowered, you’re equipped with what you need and you can be an effective partner in your health care, that is going to go a tremendous way, helping you expedite your care, lower the need for unnecessary tests and procedures and drugs.

It just makes the whole situation safer for you. And a better experience.

Scott DeLuzio: I, I think that, uh, is something that is, uh, not done enough. Uh, all of the stuff that you, you just said. Uh, and, and that’s crucial in being an advocate for your own care. When Yeah, when you have somebody just as simple as having a family member come into the appointment with you.

Um, Not only are they going to remember some things that maybe you forgot that the doctor said, um, you know, [00:40:00] yeah, you might be sitting there taking notes, but the doctor might be talking quickly and maybe you missed something or whatever, but they’ll be able to fill in some gaps and, and between the two of you, you should be able to, you know, have most of the information covered.

Um, but they also could remind you of, uh, symptoms that maybe you didn’t notice yourself. Like, like if you have, uh, you know, something that’s causing you, Okay. You know, to be out of balance or, or whatever. And, um, they, they notice that you’re stumbling and falling or, you know, whatever, a little bit more than you used to.

They can remind you of certain things. You may not even think of this as an issue in the, in the back of your head. Um, you know, it’s just, you might just chalk it up to being clumsy, but they might see it as, as an issue. And they, they can bring these things up as well, um, to, you know, kind of provide a little bit more evidence to the doctor of like, Hey, this is, this is something that, um.

They didn’t mention, but it could be an issue. Um, so, so yeah, having all of that, [00:41:00] that stuff, um, I think is, is a great way to, um, advocate for yourself because, um, you know, the, like you said, the doctors, they, they may only have five minutes with you and they have a bunch of other patients that day, um, that they need to give the same level of care to all of these, uh, patients, um, But if you’re not putting in the, any sort of effort and you’re just going to the doctor and saying, fix this, um, they’re, they’re not going to be able to fix it quite as, as easily.

And, and I think the, the one person who wants the problem to be fixed the most is going to be the patient. And so if you’re not working towards. Getting some sort of, uh, you know, resolution there or, or educating yourself on whatever the problem is, if, if you don’t want it, then I’m not sure that the doctor is going to want it as badly as you are.

You’re the one who’s in pain, right?

Ann Hester: [00:42:00] Yes. And I’m, I was laughing, kind of laughing a moment ago because you are so astute. I can’t tell you how many times. The daughter or the spouse interjected in an emergency room visit or mm-hmm. on the wards, because I spent most of my time at, at the hospital specialist said, well, no dad, I saw this or I remember this.

So that is vital, and you made a point that if you don’t want it, You’re not going to get as good care. Think of it this way. You go in and you talk to the doctor. You don’t really know what’s going on. The doctor needs to get to the next patient and the next patient. He’s not sure what’s going on. So test, test, test, test, test.

Get these things. Come back and see me in a few weeks. If you know what’s going on, okay, I think this is what’s going on. Let’s check this one test and give you this medicine or probably work. And if not, then come back. So those are the different extremes.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, when we get back, um, [00:43:00] we’re going to wrap this up, but we’re going to talk, tell people a little bit more, uh, where they can find the work that you do, your book and things along those lines.

So stay tuned. So if you missed the last episode of Drive On, you might have missed that. We’re going to try to close out each episode with a joke. Um, it’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. I don’t know. We have a doctor here. She can tell us whether or not it actually is, but, uh, I want to be able to inject some humor into this, uh, into this episode, into all the episodes, uh, to give a little laughter and a little, uh, You know, brighten up the, the day of some of the, the listeners in the audience.

So, uh, before we get to the jokes, uh, section of this though, um, and it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today. Can you tell people where to go to get in touch with you? Find a, find out more about what you do and get a copy of your book.

Ann Hester: Certainly. So patient empowerment, 101. com is the website for the book.

And if you scroll down, you can print off your, [00:44:00] your free one pager. Um, then. I have a website called Patient World, where you can actually go on and take a course dealing with this information. It’s a Patient Empowerment 101, um, Masterclass. And so, there are actors acting things out. It just reinforces, um, this information, uh, in a very engaging and smooth way.

Fun way. The book is available on Amazon and also Barnes and Noble. You can have them order it for you and get it to your bookstore. And then there is another site, well, the patient world site, patientworld. net backslash health hacks. If you sign up for that, um, then you will get. Health Hacks delivered to your inbox a couple of times a month, plus some other very interesting information.

And my email is dr. hester at patientempowerment101.[00:45:00]


Scott DeLuzio: Perfect. And we’ll have links to all of that in the show notes. So for the, uh, the listeners out there, you can check out the show notes and get access to all of that, uh, that great information. Um, So I think now it’s time for the joke section of this. And, uh, and you told me earlier that you have a joke.

Do you want to go first?

Ann Hester: Yes, but I ask that you laugh. I won’t see you laugh. I need everybody to laugh. My 14 year olds don’t laugh at my jokes. So here we go. What does the 100 year old quilt say to the Five year old mattress. I don’t know. Don’t move. I’ve got you covered.

Scott DeLuzio: Yes, absolutely. These are the types of jokes that I tell my kids and [00:46:00] they end up just rolling their eyes at me and you know, I, I don’t know, start laughing or something. You know, my joke’s going to be kind of a little more. Uh, military focused, but I, I think it’ll, it’ll get a laugh out of, uh, out of anyone, whether they were in the military or not.

So the rain was, there was rain pouring outside. Uh, there’s a big puddle out in front of a pub, just outside of a Navy base. And this old Marine was standing near the edge of the puddle with a fishing rod and, and his line was out in the puddle. And a young Navy fighter pilot came walking over to him and asked what he was doing.

And the Marine said, I’m fishing. You know, kind of like, matter of fact, we like, obviously I’m fishing and the Navy officer thought to himself, Oh, this poor old guy, he’s, he’s just standing out in the rain, like he’s fishing in a puddle. And so he invited the guy in for, uh, for a drink at the pub and the Navy officer felt like he should start some conversation with this guy.

And, uh, while they’re sipping [00:47:00] their, their drink, smart ass fighter pilot said, so how many have you caught tonight? The old Marine looked at him and cracked a smile. He said. You’re the eighth.

Corny jokes, but

I don’t know. It’s, it’s good to laugh. I think, and especially some of these episodes, I mean, this one maybe wasn’t quite as heavy as some of the episodes, but sometimes we do have some heavy topics and, uh, I like to lighten the mood a little bit. So I think we’ll, we’ll keep this around. We’ve done this a couple episodes now with a couple of jokes at the end.

Um, you know, I think the more we can. laugh, the better, uh, better life will be. And hopefully it’s something that you can look forward to in addition to, you know, the other great content that we have here on the show. So, um, thank you again, and for taking the time to come on and share all the, uh, tips and resources and everything that you had, uh, to share with us and, and, uh, and [00:48:00] everything that you do.

So thank you.

Ann Hester: Thank you, sir. And keep on doing the good work that you do. It’s so vital.

Scott DeLuzio: Thank you so much. Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son, on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need.

You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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