What’s Up, Doc? (Don’t Fear Your Doctor).

July 2, 2016

fearful young man

Can you talk to your doctor?

Some people are lucky and have great relationships with their primary care and specialist doctors; others are unfortunately at odds with them or intimidated by their doctors. There’s something that happens with some patients in a medical office that can render an articulate, competent, sharp adult into a scared little boy or girl. I don’t think it has to happen that way. In my opinion, doctors are just like everyone else. Sure, they have specialized education and training in the field of medicine, licenses, fancy initials behind their names, etc. But they are people. We are people. Ideally we should be equal partners with our doctors in the quest for better wellness.

Advocacy in Action!

Last post I recommended being an advocate for yourself negative health diagnosis (and in general).I also promised I would provide some questions to ask the doctor of your choice. The idea is not to be a difficult, angry patient with a chip on your shoulder. But neither should you be passive and allow yourself to be pressured into treatment before you’ve had a chance to think about your options. Let’s face it, getting a disease diagnosis is scary, and when people feel fear they retreat usually. Their minds might go blank and they may have a mild case of performance anxiety in the office. Some doctors compound this with a lack of bedside manner. If you don’t feel up to asking these questions yourself, go with a friend or family member who is willing to ask the questions and write (or audio-record) what the doctor says. Sometimes doctors say one thing one time and another thing another time.. It’s not malicious, they just have a lot of people to care for and not enough time to do it, usually. I find it helpful to keep records so as to clarify confusion and inconsistency.

So, what are some of the questions you might want to ask?

First, it’s a good idea to get your info together (test results, lab results, and whatnot) for the office, and to have a copy of each for yourself. Then go out and get a second opinion… or a third, if need be. Also, research the condition yourself ahead of time so you can view the similarities and discrepancies between what your diagnosis is, and what you’re actually experiencing. Once you are in the doctor’s office and he/she has entered the room, you can ask them these questions (and more!):

  1. What are other possible explanations for my symptoms? Why do you feel comfortable giving me this diagnosis?
  2. What is the normal treatment course for this disorder?
  3. What would you do if you had this disorder? Which doctor would you see if you had this disorder?
  4. (If there is a difference between what the doctor would do and what the normal course is, I think it’s fair to ask why they would not do the usual course).
  5. What are the risks and benefits of the usual/normal course of treatment?
  6. What are the success rates for the normal course of treatment?
  7. What caused the disorder to come up in the first place? (If they say it doesn’t matter, press them a bit. I don’t buy that “why” isn’t important. There is something going on in your body, lifestyle or environment that led to this developing and you have a right to the full explanation).
  8. What alternative treatments exist for this disorder?

8a.          What are the success rates for this disorder?

  1. What can I do to improve my chances of living well with this condition

9a.          What nutritional steps can I take to improve my wellness and stem this disorder’s progression?

9b.          What lifestyle changes should I make to be healthier?

  1. What support exists for people with my condition? Can you please point me towards other people who have lived through this successfully?

I’m sure there are many more questions you could potentially ask; I’d love to hear from you about what you have asked your doctors (and how they responded). These seemed the most important to me at this time. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Thank you, and best of luck to you as you pursue your well-being.