I Learned just how important
it was to advocate for myself.
Unfortunately, I learned it
... the HARD way!
- 10 Major Operations in Under 12 Years.
- $2 Million Dollars Worth of Insurance Claims.
- $300,000 Paid Out in Out-of-Pocket Costs.
The Road to A Better Life™
My journey to becoming a Board-Certified Patient Advocate began when I was very young, helping to care for my great-grandmother, who lived with us during her 90's. Just before I turned 9, she passed away. During her funeral, my own mother suffered a massive heart attack, and tragically died. That instantly thrust me into the role of being a caregiver for my 7-year-old sister (with Down’s Syndrome) and my 4-year-old brother. I am still a long-distance caregiver for my sister to this very day.
I felt very protective of my brother & sister, and overly concerned for their well-being. As my sister got older, she had a number of medical issues and I had to step in and be her advocate. I communicated with all of her doctors and other care providers and coordinated all of her surgeries, recoveries, and rehabilitation's. From this experience, and others, I knew that I wanted to help people as a career, so I set out to earn an Associate's Degree in Psychology, and a Master's Degree in Human Development. My life's experience (and my education) have played a significant role in preparing me for the career that I have today ... and also ignited a passion in me for effective healthcare navigation.
Hard Lessons Learned
I’ve taken what I’ve learned from being a patient myself in the healthcare system, and my 20 years of experience as a patient advocate, and combined them to create a powerful Self-Advocacy System©. This System is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to better maneuver through the medical maze, and become better prepared for life's medical emergencies.
My Self-Advocacy System© will provide a useful roadmap for you to follow and is the perfect place to turn when your healthcare challenges arise. It will enable you to gain immediate control, identify your highest priorities, and focus on the tasks at hand that can produce the greatest results.
It will also enable you feel more confident, capable, and in control, when moving forward to fix your health and when tackling life's most challenging issues. Above all, my Self-Advocacy System© was developed to help you begin living the life of your dreams, while enjoying ... A Better Life™.
My Story of Struggle
Learning “How To” Navigate Healthcare
My healthcare struggles began when I was first in college. I went searching for a proper diagnosis, but never got one. I bounced from Doctor to Doctor, and Treatment Facility to Treatment Facility, each giving me a different diagnosis. Unfortunately, none of them could fix me or give me a solution. From a diagnosis of the Epstein Bar Virus and Mononucleosis ... to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Cytomegalovirus, I was always “Sorry, there's no cure ... just go home and get some rest." This went on for years, until finally, one day I outgrew it. I never did find out exactly what was wrong.
But it wasn’t until I woke up from my very first knee surgery and heard the words, “I’m sorry, but you’re NOT okay!” that things really spun out of control. I didn’t know what to do, or where to turn. I didn't know how to help myself. This was serious and I was very scared. I knew that I wasn’t okay and that I needed help … and needed it fast! Everything was swirling around in my mind. I felt hopeless and helpless, overwhelmed, and so alone. Oh no, I thought, how am I going live my life if I can’t walk? How am I going to pay my bills if I can’t work? How am I going to get my son to his school if I can't drive? And, how in the world am I going to get out of this mess? I really didn't know what to do.
I was supposed to be fine. But I wasn’t.
This was a BIG wake-up call for me, and it quickly had a domino effect on the rest of my life. I learned that I needed to advocate for myself and become a better, more knowledgeable patient. I needed to become a more well-informed healthcare consumer. The problem was that I didn't know “How To” go about doing that, nor did I have the proper tools or resources to help me navigate my way through the medical maze. On top of that, there was no time to waste ... as my health, and my life, was on the line.
I immediately began searching for answers. I went from one website to another, one book and article to another, and one seminar and webinar to another. I devoured every bit of information that I could find, and searched high and low for answers. I found no “systems” to follow, no "done-for-you solutions" and no answers to my prayers. I found no road maps that said, “Here's do this, this is what you need to do in order to be a better patient." Or, "Here's how to make your life easier." I never found the tools or resources I needed to properly maneuver through the medical maze. So, I set out to create my own. Once I did that, I finally found my solution, and it changed my life ... forever!
Fortunately, I had a brother who was a physician's assistant, and a sister who was a medical lab technician. Together they taught me how to better advocate for myself. I made a LOT of mistakes, at first, and had a lot of regrets along the way. Unfortunately, I realized (and way too late) that I had let my doctors make all of my healthcare decisions for me. I didn't take an active role in my care, nor did I ask good questions. I didn't plan carefully. I didn't prepare properly. I didn't do my homework, or have clear lines of communication. Instead, I let my healthcare run on auto pilot and suffered the serious consequences because of it. In the end, I found myself unable to walk, unable to work, and suffering through 10 major operations in under 12 years. All because I didn't know "How To" properly advocate for myself.
Taking Responsibility for Myself.
The Importance of Setting Goals.
- I set out to take control of my health and learn "how to" fix my life.
- I set out to protect myself and make sure that this wouldn't happen again.
- I set out to understand my health insurance and save time, money & energy.
- I set out to learn "how to" navigate the system & become a better patient.
More of my story ...
One of the most amazing things about my career in Patient Advocacy was how it all began.
The Glory of the Olympics
After finishing my Master’s Degree, I sold everything I owned, bought a motor home & Jet Ski trailer and traveled around the United States competing as a professional Jet Ski racer. I won the World Cup Championship, the National Championship, and became the only female member on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Jet Ski Team. What an honor that was! But what was perhaps most incredible of all, was the fact that during my very first national Jet Ski race, I was asked the question, “What is your overall goal?” My answer, was that I wanted to “Jet Ski in the Olympics!”
Turning Dreams into Reality
I have no idea what made me write that answer down, or dream a dream that BIG! Of course I thought it was an impossibility. Jet Skis had only been invented a few years back and very few people had ever seen them, let alone were out there racing them. Plus, the Olympics didn't even have any Exhibition Sporting Events at the time. And they certainly didn't have any sports that were motorized. So, the idea of Jet Skiing in the Olympics was absolutely ridiculous. But, I do remember chuckling out loud as I wrote down that answer down on the entry form and said, “Why not? Dream BIG!” Little did I know that my wildest dreams really would come true!
The Power of Positive Thinking
That’s when I learned the power of positive thinking, and to “be careful what you wish for, because it really might come true.” If that story isn't crazy enough ... it gets better, because on that very same day, such a long, long time ago, I also met the man that I would end up marrying and spend the rest of my life with. We've been together ever since. I shall always remember that particular day, out of all the others, for that was the one day that truly was the start of my grand adventures ... and of a kaleidoscope of events that have led to many triumphs and tragedies since then. I DID end up getting what I wished for - which was to Jet Ski Race in the Olympics - but I also go a whole lot more.
More than Just a Medal
Being a member of the U.S. Olympic Jet-Ski Team in Seoul, South Korea, was truly a “once in a lifetime event”. I received an honorary medal for my participation. It was an amazing adventure and one of the most incredible times of my life. In a round about kind of way, it was also the reason that I ended up becoming a Board Certified Patient Advocate.
You see, before long, all that pounding on my knees from the Jet Ski racing, and all the riding and jumping waves in the Atlantic ocean, came back to haunt me. It ended up destroying the cartilage in my knees and left me unable to walk. Little did I know those “glory days” would end up not so glorious at all, and would put me on a path to total devastation, along with a lifetime of knee surgeries and total knee replacements.
Sharing What I've Learned
Looking back, it’s funny how everything in my life has now come full circle. How all of my education and life experience has come together to turn me into a crusader for self-advocacy. I feel so strongly about people needing to learn “How To” advocate for themselves (and those they love) that I’ve created this healthcare navigation company and called it A Better Life™. After all my trials and tribulations spent trying to fix my health and live A Better Life™, it seemed so appropriate to call my business by that name. Plus, once I figured out how to actually live do that ... to live A Better Life™, all I wanted to do was turn around and help others do it, too. So, now I'm on a mission to teach people “How To” better advocate for themselves and become better patients when navigating through the healthcare system.
The Power of Self-Advocacy
So, now I'm here to share with you, in precise detail, what I did and what YOU need to do to better advocate for yourself (and those you love). I'll share with you the exact tools & resources I used and that you'll need to better protect yourself from harm. I'll take you by the hand and guide you through the process of navigating through the medical maze, and break down our complicated healthcare system into parts and pieces. I'll help you become a more well-informed healthcare consumer, so that you can achieve far better health outcomes.
LIFE IS THE SUM OF THE CHOICES YOU MAKE
Plan Carefully & Prepare Properly in Order to Live … A Better Life™