Building a Working Relationship with Your Doctor

by Laura

I was on a social site last night and read a comment from a Fibro Friend who asked: (paraphrasing)

“Does anyone else on here put off going to the doctor. Sometimes I wait too long to go, because I think I need to have a really good reason. I have a foot injury and still have not gone”

This really got me thinking about the relationships we have ( or don’t have) with our healthcare providers.
Why in world would a person feel like they should only get in to the doctor unless it was very serious? Has our healthcare system reduced us to such poor self care standards?
It really pisses me off!! To be fair, it might not be her doctor, it could be something else like this…

When I probed a little more I found out that she was reluctant to go because she was tired of being told the same thing at every appointment, and that there was nothing they could do for her. I think we can all relate to that at one point or another. Haven’t you felt that helpless feeling of discouragement, when you were first diagnosed, or  were looking for help?

Listen, if a healthcare provider tells you there’s nothing they can do for you, unless they are sending you home to die and you are terminal, I would consider getting a new provider.

Something can always be done.

There’s always new things to try, both in medications, natural therapies, diet, exercise, meditation and a combination.

Taking Control of Your Body & Chronic Illness Management

Here are some ways to Empower you to take control of your healthcare. After all, who is paying who? Who is CARING for Who? Your doctor is there to take good care of you and it’s important to build a good relationship with her/him.

  • Open communication. Unless you can be honest with your doctor, and feel comfortable telling her/him all your concerns, your doctor may not have adequate information to treat you with. All the blood tests, MRIs and physical exams cannot replace explaining how you feel, what your wishes are, and how you’ve been complying (or perhaps not and WHY not) with their treatment. Sometimes we are reluctant to tell the doc we stopped taking a med because of how it made us feel, or about side effects we are having because we just want to “tough it out”. Ask questions. Thats their job to make you feel better.
  • Believe it or not, this one may sound a little strange but if you can take an interest in your doctor a little at every appointment, they will be more likely to feel a little friendship with you. Yes, they are taught to keep an emotional distance for their protection, but there is nothing wrong with friendly conversation about their kids, vacations, golf etc. Try it, it helps, especially with those colder bedside manner types.
  • See your doctor regularly. I see mine every 3 months. Some chronically I’ll see their doc every 6 mos, and if you are going through a particularly rough time, once a month to what he or she asks. Never feel like you need a “reason” to see them. They manage our care and especially if you are on medication it’s required that you be checked out
  • Get to know the doc’s staff. If you know the receptionist by name,techs, nurses by name, and take time to make them feel like more than just an employee, but a person, they will be more likely to treat you well, squeeze in an appointment etc.
  • Your healthcare and medical records are yours, and depending on your state privacy laws nobody can see them unless you give permission. Your health is a confidential matter, so you can feel safe telling your doctor anything, especially when it comes to matters of depression. For God sake tell your doctor about your depression so it can be helped and monitored. Almost all chronically ill are depressed at some points.
  • Lastly, you and you alone are inside your body right? So would it not make sense to take charge of its care? Let me illustrate with a short story: Back in 1989 it took me two years to find out what was wrong with me. I had been sick for several years, and there was no such thing as Fibromyalgia or CFS back then. My primary care doctor sent me to a Neurologist who put me in the hospital, and pumped me full of IV prednisone for a week. A month later I was diagnosed with MS. Me being a very busy young mother in shock, felt totally at the mercy of the docs and a bad HMO…for about 3 years. Then I began to wake up and take control of my case. I did research, looked for natural alternatives, as well as the best ways to manage my pain and stay on top of it. In 2002 I was “Un-diagnosed” from MS finally, and diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Had I not PUSHED for that to happen, that diagnoses would still be on my medical records.
  • Moral? Empower yourself with education!! Know your illness and your body and get tuned in to listening to it. Don’t let doctors push you around if it does not feel right to you. There are many ways to helps us nowadays, take advantage and be informed! Learn as much as you can about your condition to diffuse uncertainty and put you in the drivers seat.
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