I turned 50 last September. That is significant for many reasons beyond rites of passage and a new "phase" of my life. Turning 50 in Canada triggers a medical "protocol" to find disease for which, at 49, we weren't at risk. I dutifully went for all the poking, prodding and tests now required and behold... I have high cholesterol. Of course I had high cholesterol when I was 49 but now it's a whole new ballgame. Now I'm to consider jumping on the statin train. The pressure from my care provider is significant and even as an educator who knows the evidence on cholesterol doesn't support his treatment plan, I feel that pressure intensely. Holding steady and negotiating with my HCP is intimidating and stressful and it's only me I'm advocating for. I know, from research, that having inherited hypercholesterolemia, means moderating stress and using other health indicators for heart health but getting my HCP to jump off his band wagon and onto mine is tricky business.
When we as doulas and CBE's toss out "you need to advocate for yourself" to expectant parents we need to consider how difficult that actually is. There's much at stake and this type of advocacy requires a moxy that many people haven't developed for themselves and even if they have, there can be unacceptable repercussions. Of course I've understood this on a cerebral level but lately I'm feeling more in touch with the discomfort beyond that and recognise that there needs to be another piece added that statement. It's not enough to suggest this to parents. We have to go further to discuss, in realistic terms, what self advocacy would look and feel like. And for those of us in Canada where couples likely won't have the option to change care providers, we need to accommodate the notion that sometimes that advocacy isn't possible in it's purest form. It's highly political and parents need ideas about how to access the best care possible given that reality.
The bottom line is that I know what I need to do for my health and I have the tools to negotiate a plan with my HCP but I'm still sweaty thinking about my next appointment. As an educator this is valuable to me and as a doula this is vital. I need to stay connected with how this feels and understand that for parents it's exponentially more difficult. There's a precious child that comes first and that ups the stakes. Its difficult, sweaty, and nerve wracking business and we'd all do well to address this right out of the gate.
As I negotiate with my HCP next week I expect I'll have to meet him somewhere in the middle. My fitness and impeccable eating habits might not be enough for him and I'll have to find a way that pleases us both. Its good practice for helping the couples I work with. Wish me luck.