Psalm 142: 1, 2 – I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.
It is one thing when someone you know thinks you’re faking your chronic health condition and it hurts, but there is one other thing that cuts you to the bone:
When you’re doctor doesn’t believe you.
I know that doctors are expected to do a lot these days with all the changes in the medical system. It forces them to treat more patients each day and to produce results so that insurance companies will continue to pay for the services the doctors perform.
That may sound like an excuse and it can and can’t be. It all depends on the doctor and on the depth of the relationship that you have with him.
But sometimes those with chronic pain can slip through the cracks and fall into the valley of hopelessness. After all, if your doctor doesn’t believe you who will?
My heart breaks when I think about the time when a doctor accused me of being too focused on my health. Here’s why: Because I have so many health conditions, (which by the way have been proven through medical tests) I learned some time ago to keep track on these conditions on what is called, “File of Life.” It is a one page document with you create that lists all your important information on it – Your primary care physician, your date of birth and address, the surgeries that have been performed on you and the dates, your medical conditions, medications you’re currently on, and your drug and food allergies.
This tool helps you as you go from one specialist to the next so that it’s easier filling out paperwork and so that you can keep up to date with your health. By and large I’ve had doctors tell me what a great idea it was and how it was helpful. But like I said above, there have been doctors who have thought that I liked to, “dance with the doctors.” Yes, a doctor really said that to me. Another said my keeping track of everything proved that I spent too much of my time thinking about my heath.
But that’s just not true! Those of us who suffer from chronic pain especially, unfortunately, at times need to back up what we’re telling the doctor. Yet, what about the things that we can’t back up as easily. And one of those things is that you can’t always prove beyond a shadow of a doubt where your pain is coming from.
I thought that was where a doctor comes in. Some doctors don’t think so.
So how do we convey our symptoms and “convince” a doctor that we aren’t faking it? How are we to be believed by our doctor? Webmd.com has some helpful suggestions in their post, “How to Talk to Your Doctors When They Don’t Listen,” such as what you can do to help you better convey your symptoms to the doctor, and lists some factors as seen from the doctor’s perspective.
And remember, you have the right as a patient to choose another doctor if the one you’re seeing stops believing you. This stress we can let go of. Our health depends on it, as added unwarranted pressure can cause our pain to spiral out of control.
Though all of this can seem overwhelming, there is one who believes you every time you talk to him. He never believes you’re faking your chronic pain. You can complain to him, as the person in the Bible verse above did. God can take it. He won’t give you a cold shoulder or push you aside. He also can give you the wisdom and words that you need when seeing a physician. Trust and rely on God. As you lift up your heart to him he will show you mercy and comfort you in your heartache.
Jeremiah 17:7 - But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.
You look at your calendar and sigh. Tomorrow you have an appointment with a new doctor.
Will the doctor believe what you are experiencing?
Will the doctor find a way to help you?
Will the appointment go well?
The bottom line – Will you find a doctor you can trust?
It’s important to remember that no treatment or doctor recommendations will do any good in helping your health condition, if you don’t believe that it will.
You must take a leap of faith and make a move in the direction of trust. But how do you do that?
In the past you may have had other physicians who told you they could help you when in fact what they prescribed didn’t help, but left you with a side effect that was worse than the condition.
Or you may have been taken down the road of multiple tests trying to believe that one of them would show clearly a direction for the doctor to take in your treatment plan, but didn’t show anything.
Do you know, though, that you’re not the only one who has to take a leap of faith? The doctor has to, also. He must have the confidence in the course of action that he has chosen will benefit the patient.
So how do we find a doctor who is compassionate, cares for you as a person, has the confidence needed to move you down a road towards healing and one you trust?
Reader’s Digest has some great advice in their article, “7 Secrets to Finding a Doctor You Can Trust,” such as ask around by consulting people you know and take a look at the office staff and how they interact.
In the end, when it’s time to open the door and walk into a new doctor’s office, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to do so alone. God will always be with you. If you can’t completely trust your doctor, remember to trust in God and he can give you the wisdom to choose wisely.
Romans 8:25 - But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
You’ve just been diagnosed with a disease. It needs to be treated. However, you have to see a specialist to get the care you need.
You feel like the appointment should happen today, maybe even tomorrow, but you have to wait for an opening. It can be weeks or even months before you can get in.
That’s something I’m not very good at especially when it comes to my healthcare. What I have to remember is that there are other people out there who also need to see the doctor just as much as I do, and sometimes even more.
I must stop focusing on what’s wrong with me. This disease. This new negative in my life, and I need to be glad that there is a specialist who is willing and able to not only see me, but may help improve my outcome. Yet, why do I have to wait so long?
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why it takes so long to get in to see that specialist, or any other physician, in the article, “The Doctor Will See You – In a Few Weeks,” from everydayhealth.com; and what we can do to cut down our waiting time such as conveying urgency and being thorough in our preparations for the appointment.
Waiting can be difficult to deal with especially if your medical condition is something that causes you pain and restricts your daily activities, but by using some of the tips listed above you may be able to see the doctor sooner.
In the meantime, let’s follow the advice of the Bible verse above: remain hopeful for the appointment we don’t have yet, and wait patiently.
Proverbs 19:20 - Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
If you’ve battled chronic pain or an illness for any length of time, I think you’ll agree that it can be difficult to keep track of all of the doctor visits, procedures, tests and prescription medications you take.
One way to make life a bit easier is to keep track of them in a notebook. Buy one that has dividers and pockets. Have a divider for each physician you see and one for test results.
Take your notebook with you whenever you have a medical appointment. Bring someone with you who can take notes during the office or hospital visit. This way you can see what types of medical interventions you have had in the past and also review the notes taken after the appointment just in case you forget something that was discussed. Your doctor will appreciate that you are taking an active role in your care. In addition, your notebook can be a place where you write down any questions you have to ask your physician at your next appointment.
In addition, create a “cheat sheet” of all of your medical information on one page. You can include such areas as your name, address, phone number, primary physician, preferred pharmacy, prescription drugs and allergies, surgeries and diagnosed medical conditions.
This is helpful when you have to fill out an update at your doctor’s office or when seeing a new physician. The “cheat sheet” is also important to have when walking into an emergency room. You won’t feel like trying to remember all of the information they ask you, and you will be able to hand them your cheat sheet for them to make a copy of. Make sure you keep your notebook and “cheat sheet” up to date.
Take a look at other tips to ensure an effective doctor’s appointment in the article, “Tips to Ensure an Effective Doctor Appointment,” on thecarenavigator.com.
By staying organized and prepared for your medical appointments they can become more productive. And as the Bible verse above says, listen to advice and you will be counted among the wise. By taking the extra time to be prepared and by keeping your records up-to-date, you will also ease some of your anxiety over medical treatment.
Choose the link below to find a short video from Consumer Reports, “What Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew,” along with their article on what patients could do to get the most out of their relationship with their doctors.
Psalm 146:7 - He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free.
A detective sits behind his desk when a woman in a striking black dress walks up to him. The detective invites the woman to sit down and asks why she’s there.
The woman begins to explain that she works in the retail sector and used to be able to stand all day without any problem. But now she can hardly stand for a few minutes before pain strikes her back and she must sit down.
She explains that the pain isn’t the only problem - she’s about to lose her job.
The detective doesn’t quite understand. And though he can sympathize with her story, he doesn’t know what the woman wants him to do. He said that he’s used to tracking down criminals and placing them behind bars.
“But that’s why I’m here,” she exclaims. She wants the detective to find out what’s responsible for her pain.
The detective starts to refer her to a doctor and that he’d be better suited to her needs. But the woman insists that the detective has to take her case, because after seeing multiple doctors no one has been able to find the cause of her pain. She believes that if she finds the cause she’ll find the cure.
As the detective ushers her out of his office, once again the woman is left with no answers.
That’s how it is with chronic pain. You can see many doctors and still not have any answers as to what is causing the pain.
You want to; no, you have to pin the blame on someone. Something. Anything.
But many times there is no real cause and that baffles the doctors as well as the patients.
When considering why chronic pain has become your companion, find a list from healthline.com in their article, “What is Chronic Pain?” and the article, “What Causes Chronic Pain?” on webmd.com to find some common causes of chronic pain such as years of poor posture and osteoarthritis.
This list may make you feel overwhelmed. However, with the combination of web research you can do on any of the above pain causes listed, and finding a specialty doctor such as an internal medicine doctor may provide you with some clues. That’s the job they do. They collect all the pieces that have caused your health to decline and pain increase.
I realize that seeing another physician may not be what you want, but the internal medicine doctors are good detectives in finding out how to help you.
And as the Bible verse states above God upholds the cause of the oppressed and can set you free from your prison of pain.
Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
You wake up one morning and realize that today’s the day. Your primary physician has referred you to a specialist to help find some answers and possible treatment options.
You begin to sweat. Your body shakes a little. And all you can think of is, “Will this doctor dismiss me as a waste of his time or will he take me seriously and show some compassion?”
Most of us have been there. When I’m there, I have to admit, that sometimes I villainize the new physician – he’s the bad guy and I’m the victim. I don’t see them as someone who really wants to help me. Granted. There are a few indifferent doctors out there, but by and large, physicians are just human beings like us. They want to make a difference in the world.
But they’re under more pressure than we can imagine. They have to see sixteen patients a day (that’s what my doctor is expected to do) plus their patients who are in the hospital. And don’t forget if they happen to be on-call this week for another physician. And yes, they have families and their own lives to contend with.
So what’s a person to do? Is there something we can do to make it a more profitable visit for the patient as well as the physician? Yes, there is.
My experience with new doctors was changed when I put myself in their shoes. I tried to think about what I could do. I decided to be brave – I asked the doctor what she liked to hear from a patient. What would help her keep our visit to the time she had available yet still find a way to help me.
You wouldn’t believe the doctor’s reaction. She stopped typing notes on her computer and looked up at me. She even smiled!
Now there was something you don’t see every day!
Here’s what she said: First, she said that she wanted to know what I was in to see her for. This was pretty normal, I had thought. But she took it a step further; she wanted me to tell her everything that was wrong up front at the beginning of our visit. She didn’t like having the patient bounce around from one symptom to the next. This way, she would know the kinds of questions to ask me to best get to the bottom of the problem. The doctor also said that she liked patients who came to the visit with questions written down. This would allow her more time for the exam and to decide what the next step would be. I also brought a friend along with me so that she could write down the physician’s suggestions and answers to my questions.
By the end of the visit, she was still the doctor and I was still the patient, but she now respected me. I walked out of her office feeling she wanted to help me and was going to do whatever it took to do just that. She was in my corner. She wasn’t the villain. She was the cavalry coming to my aid.
And here’s my last bit of advice: Take a look at the Bible verse above. The Israelites were in the middle of a battle and their fear was rising to the top. Joshua, their leader, reminded them to be strong and courageous. Though we’re not living in biblical times looking a physical enemy straight into the eye, we are still in the middle of a battle.
It can be scary not only facing a new doctor, but facing whatever the doctor tells you about your health. Remember, you’re not in this alone. Your doctor can become a general in your army fighting for you and your health. And God will never leave your side through it all.
For more tips on how to speak to your doctor choose the link below.
Which tips for speaking to a new doctor can you also share with us? To leave a comment just click on the blue "comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.