Why It’s Important to Advocate for Yourself as a Patient

I’ve ended up in the hospital three times this month. My experience demonstrates the importance of advocating for yourself when you know something is not right, no matter what doctors and medical staff say.

The First Hospital Visit

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It all started in October. I went into the hospital because my suprapubic catheter was not draining correctly. If you have a spinal cord injury, the suprapubic tube is a hollow flexible tube that goes from your bladder to a bag, so when you pee, the urine travels down the tube and into the bag. So, I explained to the doctor that I was seeing a lot more sediment than usual, which is white particles that sometimes come out of the bladder. This can mean nothing or it can mean you have a UTI. The doctor changed out my suprapubic tube and told me that I just had antibiotics not that long ago, so I should be fine. I decided to give the doctor the benefit of a doubt.

The Second Hospital Visit

One week later, I ended up back in the ER for the same reason. This time, the doctor says that I should make an appointment with a urologist. In the meantime, I should flush out the suprapubic tube every day until I see the urologist, which was over a week away. Mind you, this problem has been going on for several weeks now.

The Third Hospital Visit

So that second hospital visit was on a Monday. By Friday, I was in pain and draining out of the wrong places. I returned to the ER and spoke to the doctor and explained everything to them. I then told them that I was not leaving until the problem is resolved, because I had been in the hospital three times now.

At this point, they actually took me seriously. It’s kind of sad that you have to go out of your way to explain to them that things are not right. Doctors know a lot, but at the end of the day, you know your body better than any doctor. The doctors may think they know something, but it doesn’t always explain the problem or the situation you are experiencing. This is why it’s so important to advocate for yourself. Pain is no joke.

My Treatment

In the end, the medical staff finally began to listen to me. I was admitted into the hospital and they discovered that I did have an infection. I was in the hospital for four days and was administered antibiotics for eight days. I told the doctor that I would not leave the hospital until my pain is gone and my pee looks the way it’s supposed to be. They did accommodate me.

This is just one example of why we need to advocate for ourselves, even if it’s against the advice of a medical professional. If you don’t agree with their opinion, then say so. It’s your body and only you know what you are experiencing.

About Jesse Cuellar: Jesse is an artist and a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. An accident left him paralyzed from the neck down, so he uses his mouth to paint and expresses himself through his art. Jesse lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and enjoys painting and hanging out with his friends. Click here to learn more about Jesse.

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