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Why you need to be your own health-care advocate

No one can deny that the health-care system in this country needs reform of one kind or another. But no matter what changes are put into place, each one of us remains our own best advocate. I re-affirmed this to myself this past week after I went to see one of NY's top vein doctors (whom I shall not name), an appointment I had waited weeks for. My one leg, post sclerotherapy injections at his office (done by assistants), had been aching me..and something just didn't seem right. I kid you not, within 1-and-a-half minutes of him entering the exam room (after I waited in the waiting room for 45 minutes), he told me the aching was from FAT!!!! and sciatica!?? and that I needed to do some back strengthening exercises. And if that didn't work, I should take some muscle relaxants!!! (Mind you, he asked zero questions about my lifestyle, family history, workout, anything!! And I didn't tell him that my back was sufficiently strong, thank you very much, due to all the strengthening moves I do regularly.) Stunned, I asked him if I should maybe get a sonogram to see what was actually going on in my veins. He shrugged and said, "Well we could, but we're not going to find anything." When I shared this experience with a colleague, fuming for having my aching dismissed so callously, she asked if he knew I was editor in chief of Shape. Of course not, I said. I would never use my position to get better treatment. But sadly, the fact is: I probably WOULD have gotten better treatment if he thought I was somebody with influence. So, despite his top-notch credentials and utter lack of bedside manner, I will continue to investigate the problem I'm having and keep searching for a good second opinion--that is, while I'm working off all that extra FAT! on my legs! 

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