I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.
If you’re like me, you’ve read a lot of different things over the course of your illness: leaflets and patient handouts from your doctor(s); websites and online articles; and of course, books. These days we have unprecedented access to pretty much all the information we could ever hope to find, and that’s wonderful in so many ways, especially for people like me who are frequently stuck at home due to chronic pain and illness. But the downside to living in The Information Age is that it doesn’t take much to drown in The Information Sea. The Patient’s Playbook, by Leslie Michelson, offers a knowledgeable, reassuring guide to help patients and their caregivers navigate the frequently overwhelming waters of our health care system.
The book is divided into three main sections. The first section lays out the steps a person can take to become more proactive about their own healthcare right now, before any serious health crisis occurs. The remaining two sections describe the steps to take and the resources to explore when you’ve facing a serious illness and need to find the best specialists and treatments for your situation.
This book found its way to me at a very opportune time, as my husband and I have just moved to a new state and I need to find a brand new medical support team. With a few exceptions I’ve always been fortunate to have had good medical care in the past, but I did find my doctors in a very haphazard way, just adding a new doctor to the mix every time another health crisis popped up. I never had any one physician coordinating my care. But now I have an opportunity to start fresh when it comes to my healthcare, and I’m hoping that I can use the tools described in The Patient’s Playbook to help me learn how to become more skilled in putting together my medical team.
I will confess that I did feel overloaded at times while reading this book. There is just SO much information in it that at times it triggered the same kind of overwhelm it hopes to prevent. If you’re in a position to be reading this while you’re at your-version-of-healthy, I definitely recommend consuming the information in small doses. I’m currently working on one-third of Step Three: obtaining copies of all my medical records. But little steps make a difference; before reading this book, not only did it never occur to me that I could request copies of my records for myself, it never occurred to me that I should. Now I know differently.
Another things that bugged me about the book was the kind of stories the author told to illustrate his points. It’s not surprising that he includes many stories about people who suffered through years of bad care and misdiagnoses before finally turning to the strategies laid out in the book, which led the patient to the perfect doctor, who found the perfect clue/piece of information, which led to the perfect treatment, that led to a major recovery, if not total cure. I don’t doubt any of the stories, and they’re certainly dramatic. But there aren’t any stories about patients like me, who do everything we humanly can to manage our conditions but never find a magic cure. I had to catch myself a lot while I was reading the book because I’d frequently start mentally and emotionally flogging myself or telling myself I was a failure because I haven’t yet figured out how not to be sick. Or I’d start blaming myself for my illness.
All in all, there are many helpful things I’m taking away from the book. Like learning how to treat myself as someone who deserves really good medical care. And getting better at advocating for myself. But I’m also following the “take what works, leave the rest” rule; there are things I know I’m never going to do, like spending enormous amounts of time reading medical journals for the latest papers published on my illness. Not gonna happen.
I can definitely recommend The Patient’s Playbook as a helpful resource to add to your toolkit. It’s been a long time since I read a book that offered any new information that I haven’t already read a million times before. But it’s not a magic bullet. As we chronic illness patients know all too well, sometimes you do everything you humanly can, and the best outcome you get is just being able to maintain the status quo. But sometimes, if we’re lucky, that can be enough.
If you’d like to check out The Patient’s Playbook, it releases in paperback today, and can be found here on Amazon.
Visit The Patient’s Playbook website for additional resources and information.
Visit Leslie Michelson’s Facebook author page here.