When you’re not feeling well, sometimes it’s hard to know where to turn. As the Nurse Navigator with Swedish Digestive Health Network, I get these calls every day. Below are a few tips to help you advocate for yourself if you are not feeling well. (Remember to first and foremost get established with a primary care doctor before you become ill!)
1. If you’re not feeling well:
- Make a list of your symptoms - don’t be vague. “My stomach has been upset” doesn’t tell your provider very much, be specific about what you experience including time of day and quality of pain.
- Keep a diary of when it occurs, any unusual happenings that occur before or after the symptoms and what helps relieve the symptoms, if anything.
- Keep a list of all the medications you take, including any and all vitamins and supplements.
- NEVER take anyone else’s medication.
- If your provider has an electronic medical record, sign up and use it to communicate to your provider and healthcare team.
- If you do any research on the internet, use only vetted medical sites like WebMD or a site associated with a major university or medical center, like Swedish.
- If you see a specialist, sometimes it helps to bring someone to take notes while you are being examined or talking with your provider.
- Many provider offices have triage nurses – call them for questions and advice.
- Check with your health insurance – sometimes they also have triage nurse help lines.
2. Do you have a chronic digestive problem that doesn’t seem to be improving?
It might be time to consider seeing a specialist in the Swedish Digestive Heath Network. This is a comprehensive care network with the following integrated specialty services to serve patients with a variety of concerns:
- Colon & Rectal Surgery – fecal incontinence, fissures, fistula, hemorrhoids and more
- Gastroenterology – GERD and esophagus disorders, Pancreatic problems, IBS, IBD, Crohns, Celiac disease, obscure bleeding
- Pediatric Gastroenterology – IBS, IBD, Crohns in children, liver disorders, gluten intolerance, food allergies
- Thoracic Surgery - working hand in hand with our Gastroenterology team for esophageal issues like GERD and Barrett’s Esophagus
- Weight Loss – offers surgical and non-surgical weight loss programs for people with a variety of medical conditions
- Hepatology Clinic –chronic liver conditions
- Liver Surgery and Transplant – Swedish offers all liver surgeries including liver transplants
- Medical and Radiation Oncology – cancer treatment for digestive related cancers including esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, hepatobiliary, small bowel, colorectal, neuroendocrine and anal cancer
- Otolaryngology and the Head and Neck – digestion begins in your mouth; if you can’t swallow you can’t digest
- General Surgery – specializing in gastric surgery using traditional approaches as well as laparoscopic and robotics for a less invasive approach to gut surgery
At Swedish, the providers within the Digestive Health Network know and understand when you are ill with a complex medical problem it can be daunting to get through any medical system to schedule visits with multiple specialty services. That is why I am here to help you. Please call me, I can help answer your questions, schedule appointments with providers and ancillary departments as well as advise you about housing while in Seattle. I want to help make your visit with our providers effective and efficient. I can be reached at 1-855-411-MyGI (6944).