Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
A few decades ago, back in the dark ages when patients knew their place, I had a brush with my doctor.
I asked her whether changing my diet might help with an intestinal problem I was having. ‘No,’ she said firmly, ‘and I will tell you what to do, not you.’
I was just a bit ahead of the curve. These days, taking an interest in and sharing responsibility for our own health is welcome in the doctor’s surgery.
But there’s a 21st century version of that conversation that can still be more prickly than purposeful, if not handled diplomatically …
If we put ourselves in the doctor’s shoes, we can appreciate that someone presenting us with a great sheaf of google information on their condition is, to put it mildly, a bit of a heart-sink.
We’ve only got ten minutes
We’ll probably have to talk the patient down from thinking their symptom is something way beyond what it actually is
We’re highly trained and experienced, and the patient has spent all of an hour on the internet
Like I said, prickly.
So, understanding that point of view, how do we tactfully and respectfully get what we feel we need from those precious ten minutes with the doctor?
Here are three steps to a fruitful discussion:
Preparing the ground
Gather your information from credible health sites, and double-check against other reliable online sources.
Next, don’t rock up with 20 pages for the doctor to read in her non-existent time.
Instead, digest the information, make a bulleted list of your findings, and compose two or three questions to clarify anything you’re not sure about. That way you stay focused and make the best use of the time.
Starting the discussion
Ask if it is OK to briefly talk about some information that you’ve found. This courtesy acknowledges that the doctor may be reluctant to engage with it because time is short. It avoids anybody getting on the defensive and derailing the communication.
Collaborating not challenging
Stay well clear of implying that the internet ‘knows’ more than the doctor does. Even if there is a nugget of recent research that’s new to her, it’s more important to know whether it’s relevant to your situation.
You’re sharing the information as a partner with your GP in your healthcare.
On your side, you’re keen to be well-informed about your diagnosis. That’s in addition to trusting the experience of living in your body and knowing how it feels, both when it’s well, and when something’s not right.
On her side, she brings deep knowledge and experience in treating not only your condition but also a gazillion other ways to be unwell that we’ve never even heard of.
There’s an opportunity here to both build mutual respect and get better results.
We can be part of a health-conscious movement that partners with the medical profession to foster the kind of relationship and outcomes that we all want.