So… Plan A Didn’t Work. Now What?

By Dr GaryCA Latest Activity August 14, 2016 at 9:49 am Views 2,307

Dr Gary

Alberto and his physician worked closely together on creating a treatment regimen for his chronic condition. This includes changes to his diet, his activity level, and a medication regimen that requires strict compliance. His doctor reassured him that, if he stayed compliant, he should see results. Alberto agreed to follow through on every aspect of this plan.

And Alberto did indeed follow through. To the letter.

But Alberto ran into some glitches along the way. First, unexpected side effects that resulted in a lot of discomfort and trips to his doctor’s office. One day, his plan for staying active proved to be too much, and had to cut back for a couple of days. And then, after a month, it became all too apparent that he wasn’t experiencing any reduction in his symptoms. In fact, he was feeling worse.

Plan A Was Supposed to Work! It’s Not Fair!

Alberto felt pretty defeated. All this planning and work and nothing to show for it! He was also disappointed in his doctor for recommending this direction.

When Alberto returned to his doctor to discuss next steps, he was honest about how he felt, including his disappointment with his doctor’s advice.

Here’s how his doctor responded: “I understand, Alberto. I’m disappointed too. Here’s what I would like you consider. When Plan A fails, it’s time to move onto Plan B. Are you ready to get moving?”

Alberto wasn’t all that sure how he felt about going from Plan A to Plan B. It sounded like a lot of work. And he wasn’t looking forward to another potential disappointment.

“I guess I have to be ready,” he answered. “What other choice do I have?”

How about you? Have you had the experience of putting your heart and soul into a new regimen, only to come to the conclusion that it isn’t working? And then having to move from Plan A to Plan B?

If you’re anything like Alberto, you probably had some misgivings. It’s only human to be skeptical when you hit a fork in the road.

Consider this: Moving from Plan A to Plan B doesn’t have to feel like an uphill climb. It starts with shifting your perspective away from what’s not working toward what’s possible. Here’s how:

Remember: treatment is a process. Your physician may have mentioned that it can take time and patience to find your optimal medication regimen. In other words, it’s a journey, with some twists, turns, and setbacks along the way.

Turn the word “failure” into “opportunity.” Every failure can also be an opportunity to learn. You and your doctor can apply what you learned from Plan A as you work together on Plan B. Look at it this way: Your one step ahead this time around. Knowledge is power!

It comes down to chemistry. And yours is unique. This is why you may need to move from Plan A to Plan B, and maybe even to Plan C or beyond. Each person has their own individual physiology, along with other factors that impact effectiveness and, consequently, medications may benefit one person differently than another. Your physician may need to try different medications, or combinations of medications, as well as tweak the dosages, to help you arrive at a regimen that gives you the results you are working toward. The same with diet and other lifestyle adjustments.

Don’t hesitate to be high maintenance. Patients often feel like they shouldn’t “bother” their doctors with questions and complaints about medications. And admittedly, doctors don’t always seem very welcoming when patients reach out between check-ins. But your doctor is there to help you. So don’t suffer in silence. If you aren’t feeling like your medication is helping, or if you are having uncomfortable or unexpected side effects, then get in touch with your doctor and let him/her know what’s going on with you. Help your doctor to do their job by advocating for yourself.

And reach out for some emotional support. Having to start over on getting a treatment plan in place can bring up a whole range of emotions. Frustration. Disappointment. Fear. Anger. Sadness. All normal emotional reactions! Talk to a friend or family member, or reach out to a mental health professional.

And remember: The process continues. A chronic condition can feel like a moving target. You may get into a groove with your regimen, and then find that adjustments have to be made. And don’t forget that new treatments are being developed all the time. So the best policy is to be patient, and optimistic, and willing to go with the flow.

Plan A isn’t working? Okay, then on to Plan B. And if Plan B…. Well, you get the message. You may take two steps forward, and then one step back, on your treatment journey. Don’t be discouraged. Keep your eyes on the road ahead!

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