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Trevis Gleason

Life With Multiple Sclerosis

An opinionated look at the daily challenges of MS

Posted in: Multiple Sclerosis

The Powers and Dangers of Self-Diagnosis

Self-diagnosis comes with risks.Over the past few weeks, I have been feeling rather ill. My digestive system has been very upset, leading to an overall feeling of lethargy, nausea, and overall unease.

As a pretty good student of my own body, I ran a few diagnostics. Okay, I really just took my temperature to make sure it wasn’t an infection of some sort. But I did start analyzing when I began to feel ill and what might have changed in that time.

I’m currently subjecting myself to eliminating certain items in my diet to see if any foods may be at the root of my symptoms.

While I am doing this as scientifically as I can, I am not a medical professional. That is important for me to understand.

I do feel better as I go along in this investigation, but I know that all I am doing is gathering data for my doctors to use if I need further medical attention. That is one of the things that I think many of us with chronic conditions have learned over the course of living with our diseases: Come to medical appointments prepared.

Self-Medicating May Miss the Underlying Problem

In the spheres of social media, I read of hundreds of people who are self-diagnosing, self-prescribing, and self-medicating with no confirmation from a trained and qualified medical professional.

Sure, “if I do this it hurts, so I’ll stop doing it” is a fair enough assessment of one’s own medical condition. Simply stopping the thing that provokes a symptom, however, isn’t identifying the true cause of the problem. It raises the possibility that we may be ignoring something that either a) can be fixed or b) needs further attention.

Making the Best Use of Medical Appointments

I try to anticipate what my medical team may need from me to make a diagnosis. Rather than making an appointment and simply telling my doc how I feel, I am trying to find answers to the questions I might be asked. I am trying to do some of the preliminary work before making that appointment.

I’m trying to be a good patient.

It’s important to make good use of the limited time we get with our medical team (whether it’s our multiple sclerosis team or our general medicine doctor). By bringing in our own observations of what happened, when, and how long our symptoms lasted, we can get confirmation of what we think is going on or rule out some factors so that the professionals can focus on deeper possibilities.

I’m trying to be that good patient, but I know that I am, indeed, the patient and not the practitioner.

It’s not going to be easy keeping up with this dietary restriction during the holidays, so I may have to start over in the New Year (if I begin feeling bad again). It’s nice to feel like I have some control over my healthcare, but it’s also nice to know that I’ve a good team behind me with which to work on the issues.

Wishing you and your family the best of health.

Cheers,

Trevis

My book, Chef Interrupted, is available on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page and on Twitter, and subscribe to Life With Multiple Sclerosis.

Photo: Rick Gayle/Getty Images

Last Updated: 12/21/2016
Posted in: Multiple Sclerosis

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