Monday, July 28, 2014

Doctor, Please Don't Tell Me How I Feel

A week or so ago, a friend called me after going to her 6-month checkup for arimidex and some other complaints.  She was feeling frustrated and annoyed and simply unheard hours after that visit.

She had tried to describe to the specialist a feeling that her "head just didn't feel right."  I've had such feelings myself at times (tho I'm not on arimidex)  - not a headache, not dizzy, just some kind of discomfort.  Each time she mentioned it, the doctor commented and called it dizziness.  My friend would insist it's not dizziness, and remind her that we know how dizzy feels.  The doctor was still calling it dizziness when the visit ended.

Where does disregard start?  And how scary is it when the doctor may be thinking of treatments for a symptom we do not have?

I have had a similar experience with a specialist.  I told her that the manufacturer's leaflet said my medicine could irritate my stomach lining after taking it for a long time.  I was worried about that, but when I described my stomach irritation, she would interrupt and say, "From the gas."  At no point did she acknowledge that it might be the medicine. Or that I would know a gas pain when I had one.

Of course, it can be helpful if a doctor asks:  Does it feel more like ... or like.....?  And then listens to our answer.

Everyone wants to be heard.  My L.A. doctor told me:  It is important to be heard.  Part of the doctor's communication must signal to us that we really have been heard.  And that we know how we feel.

(And you may have noticed this re-interpreting from friends and relatives of cancer patients, who feel like telling us, "You're feeling scared, tired, worried,  or ..........." followed by advice.)

I have to ask, okay, ok, really rant, Please:

Don't tell me how I feel.
Don't finish my sentences.
Don't put words in my mouth--I'll know, if not right now, then an hour from now, that what you said is not what I feel at all!

How can the patient ask again to be heard without being combative?  I'm going to do a little research on this.  If I learn anything that helps me, I'll post it right away.

I wish you health.

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