Taking Charge: Making Your Healthcare Appointments Work for You - A review

Hey all you fantastic beautiful, talented, and strong, musk-oxen!  I wanted to share a review of a pretty awesome book I picked up last week, written by Ricky White.

The book is called Taking Charge: Making Your Healthcare Appointments Work for You.

So obviously, with our chronic illnesses, we have A LOT of doctor's appointments. Specialists, regular doctors, ER doctors, the list goes on and on...and on. And I don't know about you ladies, but a lot of the time, I leave my appointments feeling pretty confused, or I get out to my car and realize, "Oh shit! I forgot to ask Doctor X about Medicine Y and that new, weird pain in my side!" Or, I get a new doctor, and get intimidated as hell and don't speak up when I don't understand anything, so I go home to Google and progressively freak out to find out all the ways I'm dying.

But, despite these mistakes, I thought I was doing everything correctly in my appointments. I touch base with my doctors when need be, I usually wait for them to schedule an appointment with me, I get my procedures done, and I move on with my life. Doctor's are busy, I'm just another person with IBD, they'll tell me what I need to know, etc.

Well, this book really opened my eyes to a lot that I am doing wrong (which, is a lot), and surprisingly enough, some things I'm doing correctly.

Ricky White also offers a pretty unique perspective, because not only is he someone with a chronic illness, he's also worked as a nurse in the UK for over 10 years. So he presents both sides of the story. One of my favorite examples is when he discusses what happens when doctor's are late (because, they usually are), and how it can alter your relationship with your doctor if you're pissed off about them being late (because, I'm sure we've all been pissed off). He also discusses addressing your personal roadblocks, and overcoming some of those bad habits, so you can really connect with your doctor and get the information YOU need.

I also love the fact that Ricky consistently drives home the message that "you are a unique patient." Your symptoms, your experiences, your disease, it's all unique to you. I know I personally run the habit of consistently comparing myself to others and base my own experiences off of what others say. But, after reading this book, NEVER AGAIN! I'm my own advocate, and my situation is unique, because there's only one me. This book really inspired some confidence in me, and that confidence I've already taken to the doctor's office.

Ricky also does a wonderful job incorporating some humor throughout the book as well. Which is great, especially when you need a good laugh. It also humanizes the book. I didn't feel like some hoity-toity expert was droning on to me about all the ways I totally suck as a patient. It felt like having a conversation with someone who legitimately wants to help me out.

And, he also gives you a ton of resources to help plan for your appointments and stay organized, so you can really get the best out of your care. For instance, he includes Medical Appointment Sheets to keep track of your appointments, a symptom history sheet, so you can keep track of those as well, and my personal favorite: The Reflective Model. This resource helps to guide you as you write reflections about your appointments and get a clear picture of what went well, and why, and what went poorly, and why.

My only gripe about the resources, is that I'm more of an activity-in-the-moment person. I like to be instructed to do A, B, and C with a worksheet or another resource. So I would've liked to see that incorporated into the book as well, rather than an appendix at the end to go download the resources.

The only other thing that threw me, was Ricky goes back and forth referring to doctors as "he/him" and "she/her." Each chapter, the doctor switches genders. I appreciate giving that equality to representing both female and male doctors, and not using the "they/them" pronoun, but I got distracted a few times when the switches first started happening. I eventually got used to it, though.

Overall, the book is a really quick read, and has a lot of actionable items throughout, which makes it a great reference. Compared to other books I've read about dealing with the diagnosis and managing IBD, this one stands above the rest. It's light, but also covers some serious material. And I wanted to keep reading. I feel like a lot of the books out there are pretty drab, slow, and boring, and I eventually lose interest. This is not the case with Ricky's book. It's well-researched, he adds in his own shortcomings and strengths, and then at the end, discusses his diagnosis and managing his chronic illness.

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. I'll definitely keep it for quick references, and I'll probably reread it. I'm only 4 years into my diagnosis, and I've still got a ways to go to learn the ins and outs of my doctor visits. But after reading, you'll feel strong, and empowered to take your appointments into your own hands, and ultimately receive better care throughout your IBD.

You can find where to snag a copy of Ricky's book here. And if you're an Amazon person, don't forget to use Amazon Smile to donate to your favorite Girls with Guts organization.