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Top 5 Things to Do

When first diagnosed with an illness or medical condition, you may be in a state of shock, unsure about what to do or where to go. Though you may have a hard time thinking clearly, be sure to take care of these five things during the first 30 days:

1. Talk to your doctor.

Get as much information from your doctor as you can about your condition, your possible treatments and your long-term prognosis. Your doctor is your best source of information about your sickness—don’t be afraid to speak up. Write down your questions—you’ll have many—and bring them to your office visits. If you’re concerned that you’ve been misdiagnosed or you are not comfortable with your doctor, get a second or even a third opinion.

2. Know your health coverage.

Find out what tests and treatments will be covered by your health insurance plan and what you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Check to see if your doctors are in your insurance network and, if not, how much you’ll be responsible for financially. If you don’t have health insurance, make sure to ask for a price quote before any treatment or test, and ask your providers if they can work within your budget. Many doctors and hospitals accept patient financing programs, like CareCredit , which allow flexible payments.

3. Research your condition.


Your doctor can give you plenty of information, but you can contribute to your treatment and recovery. Go online or to the library and read up on your diagnosis. Find out as much as you can about the reasons for your condition and the different methods of treatment available. Also, bone up on the latest and experimental treatment methods, as new drugs and procedures are in constant development.

4. Change your lifestyle.

Regardless of your diagnosis, your body could probably benefit from a change in diet and exercise. Research shows that a balanced lifestyle is an important part of a healthy life—and it could do wonders in boosting your body’s ability to fight any sickness. Try to quit smoking as soon as possible and avoid alcohol. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and eliminate processed foods. Also, try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, most days of the week.

5. Be patient.

Depending on your diagnosis, your body may take 30 days or longer to recover. It’s important that you remain patient and accept that it will take time for a treatment to work. Believe you’ll reach a new “normal,” and soon enough you will.

Posted: 11/21/07