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It would be wonderful if this book was given as a graduation gift for every high school or college student. It contains important information that everyone will need at some point in life. We all need to understand the fundamentals of taking responsibility for our own lives and our own health, but there are few classes taught in school that provide this basic knowledge. Realistically, when you find yourself or a friend in a life-altering situation, you will want to read this book as soon as possible.
You have come into possession of this book because either you or someone you love is already facing a major medical crisis. You may need help in a specific area. Most likely, that area is covered by one or more of the ten steps I have outlined in this book. Although I learned the lessons of these steps in approximately the same order as I have presented them, you may need to start immediately on a particular section, develop your understanding from there, then come back to the other chapters later as different crises present themselves.
For example, if you are in a hospital emergency room and are fortunate enough to have this book in your hands, read the short section "ER Basics" at the back of this book. You may not have prepared for the emergency room visit, but the information provided will teach you quickly how to stay in control of the situation, how to help the ER personnel, and how to understand what is going on around you.
If your doctor has given you a copy of this book because you have just been diagnosed, please go home, sit down quietly, and read my introduction, "You're Lucky." I believe that it will be a comfort and an inspiration for you. I have been where you are now, and I know that you are going through many of the difficult emotions and experiences I describe. You must turn hopelessness into hopefulness. I am absolutely sincere about the title of this book: Lean on Me. If you or your loved one or friend suddenly finds his or her life turned upside down with a devastating illness, you will understand the importance of the phrase, "We all need somebody to lean on."
Perhaps you are a relative or a close friend of someone who has just been diagnosed with a devastating illness. First, put a copy of this book into this person's hands. If reading is difficult, offer to read it to him or her. Second, skim the entire contents and see what seems to apply to the most pressing problem that you or your friend or relative is facing. Absorb that section and take appropriate action.
Undoubtedly there will be many people who have heard that I have useful advice about how to deal with the medical establishment. You need this help especially if you feel that you do not have the insurance or financial ability to get the health care you need. Remember that no matter what your current financial situation, you have the right to the best care possible. Please turn to Step Nine, "Tame the Health Care Monster," to see if I have addressed your specific problems. The information in the resources section will take you further.
If your parent has chronic medical problems, you may have obtained this book as a guide to advocacy. Consider this a fresh start, a new way of looking at your parent's problems. This is the time when you may have to reverse roles and become your parent's caretaker, just as he or she has always cared for you. There are a variety of positive elements to be introduced as you implement the ten steps. You will definitely see how these concepts apply to your life, too.
Finally, if you are that rare and truly lucky person who is not facing an immediate medical crisis in your life or in a loved one's life, I hope this book will inspire you to take charge of your life and prepare intelligently for a medical crisis that surely will affect you or a loved one in the future. I hope these steps will give you the strength and independence that they have given me. I hope my story will empower you and encourage you to live your life in a way that will inspire and help others.
Copyright © 2006 by Nancy Davis
How to Use This Book
Introduction: "You're Lucky"
Step One Embrace Change
Step Two Fear Less
Step Three Never Take No for an Answer
Step Four Find Your Dr. Right
Step Five Build Your Health Team
Step Six You Are What You Ingest
Step Seven Let's Get Physical
Step Eight Explore Alternative Therapies
Step Nine Tame the Health Care Monster
Step Ten Give Back
Very Necessary Medical Identification Card
Electronic Health Resources
About The Nancy Davis Foundation for MS
About the Author