Find the right doctor
The doctor / patient relationship
It sometimes happens that we just do not click with our general doctor and the reasons can
be many. We may be on a different wavelength, there may be personality clash, we may find they
talk at us and not with us, perhaps their ego is so loud they don’t listen, perhaps we annoy them
as we haven’t found an effective way to relate with them, we come across as a know-it-all patient
who also doesn’t listen. Sometimes we buy into “group” think and believe it when others tell us
that Dr So and So is a right so-and-so.
Sometimes there is a bad apple in the barrel, doctor or patient but most doctors go into medicine
because they want to make a difference. And then they enter the world of work, the system, which
is not of their making and likely over which they have little control. There is much in the media about
the failings of the NHS – from long waiting lists to consultants who rush through appointments,
from doctors in local practice who are so overworked and have to squeeze more and more into the
ten-minute consultation approach, mistakes are made, tempers frayed – and the General Practitioner
often ends up being the target of patient dissatisfaction.
We as patients often have high expectations of our doctors, we often expect of them that for which they are not trained. Think of the armies of patients now conversant with integrative, functional, complimentary, and nutritional medicine and perhaps expect our doctor to be an expert in those fields. But s/he is a general practitioner for very obvious reasons. They are generalists so why expect them to know everything about everything?
So by the law of averages, every now and then we will find there is a mismatch between patient and doctor, when we may seriously need to consider transferring to another doctor, even another general practice. They too might decide it is time to let you go!
Finding a great doctor
I know some people live in areas where medical options are limited, both in terms of the services available and the doctors to serve you, but if you don’t fall into that category, please do not keep going to a doctor who disrespects you or isn’t trained, capable or willing to help you. Remember, a general practitioner is just that, a general practitioner and cannot be expected to know everything about everything.
I have heard some wonderful stories of excellent relationships between patients and their doctors. But I have also experienced and heard of so many medical horror stories over the years – of doctors who eg tell patients that chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia or other conditions don’t exist, who said it was all in the patient’s mind, who were too quick to prescribe medications, anti-biotics and anti-depressants, to the point of putting the patient in a drugged stupor, or who, certainly in my own case, was told I was just getting old or needed to eat less, walk more, or lose weight.
If your medical practitioner has said or done any of the above things, then do all you can to find a new doctor (if you’re able)! It may mean seeing a new doctor in your present practice, or changing practices. It may mean asking for a second opinion. You may not be popular but this is your life and you have every right to be in charge of it. Patient-centred means putting the patient at the centre of their health. The days of doctor knows best and holding all the cards are gone – or at least, should be. So do not allow yourself to be disrespected, ignored, unheard, or abused! Do not allow your practitioner, be it doctor or nurse, or other health care provider, to invalidate, trivialise, ignore your experience, your story, let alone your illness!
Most people do not make up stories about their medical and health experiences; to them, what they experience is genuinely what they experience. You are not making it up, and it is not all in your head. Never doubt that! At one point when I was in meltdown, doctors simply wanted to remind me that I was acting unreasonably – and despite the fact they knew I had just lost my sister, was at the time experiencing an increasing number of medical conditions, questioning my own morality, and suffering untold stress, none of that was taken into account. And yet, those are the times when you most definitely need to be heard. I met not one health care provider who seemed to appreciate how stress affected the physical body, let alone the patient’s mind, emotion and spirit body.
So if you find yourself thinking, maybe I need a different general practitioner heed that inner call.
Perhaps first take an inward look at your own behaviour, how you have behaved, how you come across as a patient and, without putting yourself down or doing a huge guilt trip on yourself, if there are asppects of you that you can honestly reflect on and change, then do so, and see what happens.
If you are still of a mind to change doctors, then seek out a physician who believes in you, and your condition, even if it does not fit with their text book; ask them exactly how knowledgeable they are about the complexities of all you are experiencing and how up-to-date they are with the latest research.
If you are into metaphysics and the Law of Attraction, draw up a list of what you are looking for in the ideal doctor (and no, I'm not talking tall, dark and handsome - oh heck, why not) and aim to attract that, or as near as possible to you. Describe their competence, their manner, their attitude to modern functional medicine and so on.
If you are into prayer, give thanks that the doctor you need at this time - not necessarily want - is now finding his or her way to you.
And whilst you are at it, draw up a list of the perfect patient and check yourself out against it.
It’s hard to find a good a good doctor who ticks all the boxes, and they can’t be expected to tick all of them. But when you find one who comes pretty close, be grateful, express your gratitude, cultivate the relationship. Having the right professional in your network is worth the effort!