This is such a necessary part of spoonie life, but it definitely can be one of the worst parts. I am still learning the fine art of doctor-patient relationships but I will share with you what I know so far.
How to Work Effectively with Doctors as a Patient
Understand that doctors are people, too. Doctors are not miracle workers, usually. They are human, so remind them about your case if they forget and remember that they are (probably) doing their best.
Don’t expect too much. All doctors want their patients to have positive outcomes. It looks good for them if they’re helping their patients so they have a real motivation to give you the best care that they can. That being said, there is very rarely a magic potion to cure your ailments. They feel frustrated and disappointed when your treatment doesn’t work also. If you go in with lowish expectations you will have a better chance of being happily surprised, as harsh as that may sound.
Don’t quote things you read on the internet, unless it is a proper peer-reviewed article. This is a definite doctor pet peeve. It is good to research your symptoms and illnesses, but be wary of your sources. Scientific journals can be hard to understand but it is important that you find valid information before bringing it up to your doctor.
Be honest about everything. The good, the bad, the ugly. Some of our symptoms and side effects are pretty gross. Whether they be bowel issues or other unflattering situations, it is imperative that you share these and other concerns with your physician. They can’t help problems that they don’t know exist. Even things that you don’t think are important, tell them anyway. The more information the doctor has, the better the potential outcome.
Keep records of symptoms.
Doctors enjoy this. They need to know when the symptoms started, how severe they were, how long they lasted and what seemed to help them. These records help the doctor identify if they are side effects to medications or if they are a brand new symptom or a new condition altogether. Keep track of these things!
Be a patient patient.
This is something I’m still working on, as patience is a virtue I may have not inherited. I feel like I’m constantly waiting and always phoning and leaving messages for doctors. It becomes infuriating to say the least. That being said, try to not take your frustration out on the receptionist, nurse, or physician. It may not be their fault, and they will all appreciate your patience.
Kill them with kindness.
Going along with the patience, even when it may kill you, kill them with kindness. They will likely be much easier to deal with if you are pleasant with them. Remember that you have the power to change not only your day, but theirs as well. Change it for the good. You’ll never lose by being nice.
Thank them in writing. Writing a thank you card is always a good idea. If they helped you in a substantial way, it’s always nice to let them know you appreciated their treatment. It’s a classy move that may pay off in the future!
That’s what I have for today! Any other hints you think I should add?
Have a great day!
As (mostly) usual, check out the Song of the Week page for an awesome recommendation from a lovely spoonie friend!
Dear Friend, Acquaintance, Family Member, Random Person Staring at me with my Walker, or any other person who judges me without knowing anything about me and/or my condition/s and therefore should have no opinion on my medical situation,
This letter is for you.
I usually try to steer clear of you, as negativity is not permitted in my bubble of self care, but alas, you continually attempt to pop my beautiful pink bubble.
I used to think it was easy to avoid you and others like you, but as my medical conditions make it more challenging to survive without the need of mobility or accessibility aids in public and my life revolves around the illnesses more than anything else, we seem to be at an impasse.
I have several chronic, autoimmue, life-altering illnesses, whether you believe they’re real or not. And they are, just to be clear, as years of research and medical documentation support their existence (and I’m not on all of these medications for nothing). These conditions, illnesses, horrible-things-that-have-happened-to-me are in no way fake, misleading, or caused by anything I have done. I do not choose to be ill and miss out on work, bearing children, or vacations with my husband. I do not want to use a cane or walker around the house or in public (even if they are pretty cute), because in reality, it’s all a huge inconvenience. I do not want to spend hours on the phone arguing with insurance companies, employee benefits, or disability services. I don’t want to be in agony over the sound of birds chirping, motorcycles starting, or my husband trying to hug me. This is not a fun life. But it is my life.
This is my life, and it is not yours. And just because it does not make sense to you does not make it any less legitimate. These are illnesses I didn’t even know existed until they happened to me. But now that I know they do, I am a champion for these causes and for the people’s lives they’ve affected. I do not write this letter for your benefit or mine, I write it for theirs. I write this for my friends around the globe who encounter naysayers and hurtful doubters who make their already difficult lives that much harder. Nobody chooses to live in pain, but you are actively choosing to be ignorant to it.
I’ve heard you say things like “just push through it,” or “why are you in bed still?” or “if you just keep moving,” or one of my all time favourites “if you just take this one supplement your life will be completely different” which shows me just how little you know about our illnesses. And if you know that little about them, you are in no position to comment on how we survive them. If you think that one lap around the dog park is not enough to wear us out for days, you have no idea what we’re dealing with.
I’m sorry if this is coming off harsher than I had intended, but enough is enough. If you cannot stick by us, support us, encourage us, and just generally try to understand what we’re going through, then we’re going to have to cut ties here.
Speaking for myself, I cannot push through these exchanges anymore. I am begging for compassion, and if you are unable to provide that, there is nothing left to say.
Thank you, our friends and family who have shown us unending support and love. It means more to us than we can say.
As usual with a new post, here is the new Song of the Week to empower you and give you strength!
I have to be honest here, when writing these “how to’s” I feel a bit like a fraud! Who am I to tell other people how to do anything? I am no expert in any sense of the word. I am just a girl living with these illnesses, trying to help people whenever and wherever I can. I do have a pretty successful marriage that I believe is in large part due to my amazing husband. That being said, here is how we make it work!
Honesty is key. Both partners need to be straight up with one another at all times. If you’re having a bad (or good) day, they need to know what to expect. If you aren’t up to outings, let them know! Pushing yourself will only hurt you both. Keep it honest about the realities of your conditions. And try to always let each other know what you need. Don’t hold things in until you burst.
Education is Important for Support and Understanding. Chronic pain workshop and education classes can be outstandingly helpful for both parties. Workshops together and separately are vital for understanding. When both of you understand the illnesses and treatment plans you can better work towards a sustainable and healthy future.
Support Groups are Supportive. Not just for the chronic pain warrior, but for the caregivers as well. Caregivers hold a lot on their plate. They feel like they always need to be strong and able to help, but they need help too! It is not easy for them to watch their loved one in so much pain and feel utterly helpless about it. It is important for them to attend Caregiver Groups so they feel supported as well.
Keep the Intimacy Alive! Spouses can feel like nurses if their time is spent arranging pillows, giving medications, and turning on heating pads. It is important to still do “couple things” when you’re up for it! Dress up and go on a date, have a picnic outside, have sexy time! These things are absolutely vital. Orgasms are good for pain relief! That’s an actual fact! Sex and ArthritisSex and Chronic Pain give some helpful hints when discussing sex in the realm of chronic pain. I know it’s a personal topic and varies from situation to situation.
Keep up with the Inside Jokes and Netflix Binges! My husband and I have really gotten closer throughout these illnesses. I think it’s hard not to, when it’s usually just us here dealing with the day-to-day of the symptoms and realities. Because of this, we have many inside jokes and our own little language basically. It brings us closer as a couple and strengthens our bond. We have a couple things on Netflix we’ve rewatched about a million times (Bo Burnham- What) and enjoy finding new shows to binge on!
Remember to Appreciate One Another. This is probably the most important. Just be appreciative of what each of you brings to the table. If your spouse takes great care of you, thank him/her. If you book the appointments and are there for morale boost, that’s an important job too! You’re a team. A damn good one, too. Please and Thank You’s are still the magic words.
Find things to do That Aren’t Illness Related. You can never really take a break from these illnesses. They’re chronic. And we all know what chronic means (thumbs down). But if you like to play computer or video games to take your mind off of the pain, or can beat each other at Words With Friends, those are cute options that keep you connected in a non-illness way!
I hope this was even a little bit helpful! If you have any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Disclaimer- Bo might not be for everyone. He is a comedian and can be offensive depending on your preferences and tastes*