Like most of you that might read this blog, I could list "patient" as my occupation. Not that we are hypochondriacs (far from it) but we often suffer with multiple health issues. Besides general health problems like colds, flu, aches and pains most of us also deal with sleep problems, diabetes, heart conditions, arthritis, and the list goes on and on and on. With that said, we also meet with many different doctors; not only different because of the actual health issue but different in how they relate to us as patients.
Personally, I have had great doctors, blah doctors and witch doctors. (Not really but they sure didn't help either!) Some doctors have listened and helped. The best doctors not only listen but they ask questions too. The best question they can ask is "Do you understand what we have discussed?" Bad doctors are....bad. I actually had one doctor tell me that I wasn't as dumb as I looked after I asked several "intelligent" questions. That was the last time I went there. One sleep doctor listened intently while I told about my problems using my CPAP machine. He then proceeded to tell me that he used a machine too and that cleaning his mask with lavender dish soap helped him go to sleep easier. That wasn't my problem.
I hear quite a few people make complaints about doctors who don't listen, who don't seem to care, who don't take any time for them, who have a "god" complex, who just don't understand. Others tell me about doctors who truly are great, who listen and take time for questions, and who just seem to really care. So I started thinking about the differences and realized something amazing--doctors are human beings, people just like us!
If they are human beings, then they have attitudes, likes and dislikes, preferences and outside lives just like us. But as patients, we expect them to leave all that outside the office door. We all have a picture of what a doctor should be; kind, caring, never rushed and always with an immediate answer for us. And many of us grew up with the notion that the doctor is always right and never to be questioned. So right at the beginning, we have set doctors up to fail because they aren't perfect as we think they should be.
So here is the true point of this blog. Things are changing. Patients want to be more involved in their health care decisions. Some doctors are fine with this and some feel threatened. A lot depends on how patients approach this change in the medical field. I am a HUGE proponent of patient education. We are the only ones who really know what is going on with our bodies and minds. Because of this, it is our responsibility (yes, responsibility) to become educated about our health issues. Research, read, learn from reputable health sites and people. Make sure you know what you are talking about or write down questions to ask you doctor when you don't understand. It is up to us to become the other half in the partnership between patient and doctor. Always be respectful, never overbearing or rude. Act the way you want your doctor to act. Remember that you are dealing with another human being. Let your doctor know that you want to have a working relationship that will benefit both of you. If said doctor does not want this also, it is up to you to decide if the care you are receiving is good enough to stay anyway.
Bottom line is this--WE are the ones ultimately in control of our health. We need to know what things to do or to avoid, who will help us the most, and how honest we are with ourselves about our health. That means knowing what we are dealing with--which may be as important as who we are dealing with. Become educated and build a relationship with your very human doctor. It can only help!
(I encourage feedback and comments!)