Who is the expert, you or your doctor?

“I’ve trated Parkinson patients my whole life and I am one of the leading scientists in this field. I thought I knew everything about this disease. Then I was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease and had to realize: I knew nothing about Parkinson.”

This impressive confession of an internationally recognized authority in the field of Parkinson shows that the term “expert” does have two sides when it comes to chronic diseases.

Your doctor is an expert in the diagnosis and therapy. You can count on his knowledge and experience in these two aspects of the disease. His prescription is the foundation of your treatment.

But what about the rest? How do you deal with the diagnosis and the side effects of the treatment? How do you ease your daily discomfort? How do you manage to quit smoking? Are the fears that plague you normal – do other patients have those as well? I was once told by a patient with multiple sclerosis: “I have to fight 1000 battles a day, but what I get from my doctor is only a conversation about medication.”

As true as it is, it also shows us the dilemma that many patients with a chronic disease are caught up in – as well as their doctors.

Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson and many others can not be be treated with a few antibiotics like an angina. The medical treatment is only part of the story. The other – equally important – part of the treatment takes place at home, day by day, and the expert and major player is you.

You can seek assistance by experts that are specifically knowledgeable about these issues. As colorful as the everyday problems of the patient, is the range of these experts. There are other patients, self-help groups, dietitians, psychologists, physiotherapists, fitness trainers, yoga teachers, biofeedback experts, spiritual people and many others. Most patients with a chronic illness need support in their everyday lives sooner or later in one way or another that goes beyond their doctor.

The awareness that there are many more experts out there, beyond your first and most important contact – your doctor – that can help you on your way, is very important. If you need help in your everyday life, then take matters in your own hands and have a look around. You can only win. There are many experts and not every problem requires a medical degree.

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