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 care 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 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 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 instead of thinking of dismissing me as a waste of her time. 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.
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.