Be Your Own Advocate for Your Health

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Be your own advocate for your health because only you can be!

Recently I have had several conversations with some of my mom friends about medical issues we are experiencing.  All of us have said the same thing…we keep putting off seeing a doctor.  The main reason we all haven’t gone to a doctor is because life happens.  Our own health just gets put onto the back burner.  It truly was a funny conversation.   Each one of us talked about how we will immediately take our kids to the doctor when they get sick.  However, when we get sick we just run to the local store and get some over-the-counter medication to take for ourselves.  We weren’t always like this, but with kids and life, we do what we have to do.  Well, I have found out that I need to be my own advocate for my health, and NOT put it on the back burner.

About two years ago I started having trouble seeing out of my left eye.  I had Lasik surgery in 2010, and they told me that around 40 years of age I would start to need readers, regardless of having the surgery.  I didn’t think much of it until I started having trouble reading magazines and emails on my phone.  I bought a pair of readers for $1 and they helped for a small amount of time.  I thought, ok, it is time to see the eye doctor.  I went through the entire examination and was told “we can’t get your left eye to keep up with your right eye.  This will be your best-case scenario for the rest of your life.”  For the rest of my life, I was only 39 years old! 

I talked with my primary care physician about this and they ordered an MRI of my head, and some blood work.  Everything came back normal.  Trying to figure out what was going on in my left eye was very concerning to me.  As the year progressed I couldn’t really drive at night because I couldn’t read the sighs that well.  Having two little kids, it would worry me that I might miss something while driving.  Again, I was more concerned about their safety than getting a second opinion. 

Be your own advocate
Picture by Canva

I lived with this “best-case scenario” for about year as my left eye regressed more and more to the point that even the corrective lenses didn’t work.  Everything was getting blurry and blurry.  My right eye was working so hard that it ached by the end of the day.  Finally, I opted to get that second opinion.  When I went into the eye exam with the new eye doctor, I flat out told her what was going on, what happened with the other eye doctor, and how this can’t be the “best-case scenario.”  She was super patience and listened.  When I was done she said it could be a few things but she wants to do the exam first.  Within a minute looking in my eye, she said, yup, you have a cataract in your left eye and that is the cause of all your blurriness. 

A huge feeling of relief came over me that I wasn’t crazy, or that there wasn’t something majorly wrong with me.  I literally cried for about a minute before I realized I didn’t know what a cataract was or how they fix it.  You mostly hear about older people having cataract surgery, as everyone will develop cataracts at some point in their life.  However, a 40-year-old having a cataract is pretty rare.  

The doctor took her time explaining to me what a cataract was, how someone so young would develop one, and how the surgery works.  Now, remember I said I had Lasik done in 2010.  What I didn’t say was that my left eye was under corrected so I had to have an enhancement 3 months later.  When I had the enhancement, I couldn’t open my eye for 3 days and I was in so much pain.  The thought of having surgery on this eye again put my anxiety through the roof! 

I made appointments with the eye surgeon and told them about my experience.  They told me that this will be much different and very few people actually feel any pain.  Still the idea of having another eye surgery was just too much for me.  On the other hand, I couldn’t see out of my left eye at all now.  I couldn’t live like that either.  I planned the surgery, went in for surgery, got out of surgery, and recovering nicely.  The team of doctors were super nice and helped their best to alleviate my fears the day of surgery. 

It has been six weeks since my cataract surgery and I can now see out of my left again.  I do have trouble with distance which I can use a corrective lens to fix, but I am about 95% better from where I was before.  So, what turned into a “best-case scenario” was actually a medical issue that needed to be corrected.  I only wish that I would have listened to myself sooner and got that second opinion.  I now know that anything that I would do for my kids regarding medical issues I need to do for myself.  I need to be that advocate and “best-case scenarios” need a second opinion.  Never ever, ever just be happy with a “best-case scenario.”

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Mary Yohannan lives in the Baldwin-Whitehall area of Pittsburgh. She moved to Pittsburgh over 2 years ago with her husband and 2 beautiful children. Mary owns her own travel agency Life is Better Traveling™, LLC which has helped hundreds of families take amazing vacations to Disney®, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, and all over Europe. She is also the founder of the Travel Agent School Supporting Learning and Education™ or T.A.S.S.L.E, which has the How to Become a SUCCESSFUL Travel Agent program™, a one-stop, all-inclusive program for someone who wants to become a Successful Travel Agent. Mary earned the distinguished honor of the Certified Travel Associate (CTA) through the Travel Institute in 2016, and has several other travel and tourism certifications. Mary has traveled to over 20 countries on 3 continents, but it wasn’t until she had children did she learn that traveling with little ones is a completely different, and sometimes challenging, traveling experience. Mary’s authentic passion for travel and traveling with her children has given her extensive knowledge on the best tips, tricks, and hacks to keep kids calm, entertained, and well-behaved while traveling. She posts a variety of travel tips and tricks on her highly coveted, High Content Life is Better Traveling website, but she has a lot of great advice on traveling with kids that she can’t wait to share with all those amazing Pittsburgh Moms.