Friday, June 26, 2009

Let Your Voice Be Heard

I recently had a lil' crisis with my stomach,to make a long story short, I was on antibiotics for a sinus infection a couple of months ago and the medicine killed all of the good bacteria in my stomach--not fun! So I had to have a sigmoidoscopy, which is just a terrible, terrible test to see if there is anything wrong in your colon. So my mother and I go to the doctor and he comes into the room and promptly and rudely tells me that my mother cannot stay with me during the test...uh 'cuse me? His reason was that he does not know how she's going to react to the procedure. Kind of understandable. I try to reassure him that we've been through a lot with doctors and that she can handle it well, and that I handle it a heck of a lot better with her in the room. He still said no, with no concern, like it was any other day. So I put on my big girl underwear and go with the flow (no pun intended). Instead of reassuring me and relaxing me, he started babbling off medical terms about where he was in my colon, etc. He also then decided that it'd be a good idea to act completely surprised (honest to goodness!) when he did not find any tumors. I didn't even know that there was a good possibility that I had a tumor. That was never discussed. Apparently he was seriously concerned that I could have had colon cancer. It would've been nice if he told me that. Ignorance is not bliss.

What he, like many other doctors did was completely disregard a patient's request and well-being. I was a wreck and actually felt really violated--he did not do any unprofessional, but the way it was handled really really left something to be desired. Yes, I know there has to be some boundaries, and there are times when it's inappropriate for you to have someone in the room with you. But come on, a girl should be able to have her mother (significant other, friend, the cookie monster, whomever) hold her hand if she wants to. I told him this and his response was that in his 30 years of practice he's never had a family member in the room with a patient. Well buck-o, in my 21 years of life I've almost always had my mother in the room with me. She knows me. She knows when I'm about to have a panic attack the size of Justin Timberlake's ego. She knows what to say to relax me, soothe me, and make me laugh. She makes these scary, new tests bearable. I'm good with the MRIs, X-rays, bone scans, cortisone shots, and trigger point injections; I'm pretty sure that by now I can do them in my sleep, but the stomach thing...definitely not for me.

See the problem with new doctors and jerky doctors is that they don't know what will and will not put their patients at ease. They also presume things. He didn't realize that we have been through hell and back again since I was a baby. If she hasn't attacked or sued a doctor yet, I highly doubt she's going to start now, and believe me, she's had cause to in the past. See, the problem with doctors is that they don't get to know their patients. We need to connect with them so that we can build a solid and trustworthy rapport. I'm not talking about cheesy connections, but professional connections where they know where we're at physically, emotionally, and mentally. They need to know what our expectations are and what we are willing and not willing to do. They need to know us! We need to start demanding an actual conversation with our doctors; it's the only way to make it bearable when going to doctors. And why shouldn't we? We are entrusting them with our very precious lives! They are temporarily employed by us, why do we feel the need to bend to their wills? We need to ensure that the doctor is there to make us as comfortable as possible while also maintaining our health.

So what I'm encouraging you to do is simple: speak up. If you're uncomfortable about something, speak. If you need a minute to collect yourself, speak. If you want to take a different path, speak. Speak up and eventually a doctor will hear you.

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