If you have been chronically ill for some time it is doubtless that you have seen more specialists than you care to count! I certainly have. The sad fact is that we are led to believe that they are always right and that one size fits all. They aren’t. And they don’t!
Growing up we are taught that the medical profession is the most infallible one there is. They cure people don’t they? They must be always right. Right?
The sad reality is that they are just as wrong as anyone else can be, despite whatever training and teaching they may have had. They are human in that way. They get things wrong and are prone to bias and inaccuracies. Learning to forgive them for this is an important step on the path to acceptance and coping with chronic illnesses.
Remember the old saying;
You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your Prince Charming …
it is just as true when it comes to doctors and health care professionals!!
I have learned that it is not just illnesses we have to learn to accept and forgive but it is also the failings of others in their ability to care for us and support us.
I now look at finding specialists with whom I can work with in managing my life and my quality of life. I no longer give them the impression that I am at their mercy or not part of the equation. Often specialists can feel quite empowered and forget that they are there to assist us, not rule us.
The power differential has to be worked on and balanced.
It is a sad fact that it can take many different referrals and attempts to find the right fit for a specialist, regardless of the profession. It’s a fact that we won’t know until we are there and have met a number of different doctors.
General Practitioners and Primary carers don’t understand this but it is an important lesson to learn and can change the entire course of your management plan.
I shall explain further.
Take for example the workplace or our careers, we can’t always work well with everyone and every different personality out there, therefore we must be prepared to find the right personalities to make a successful team when it comes to our health. Sometimes even a once working team can change over time too!
Just like when we are looking for a partner and dating we won’t connect with everyone. It’s a specific person we are looking for. This is actually a good analogy for our health too! Imagine you are looking for someone to team up with to help negotiate your health and future, we have to find someone caring, someone who listens and someone you click with. The same is true for medical practitioners and specialists!
I now look (and keep looking) for the right fit for me and someone I can work with. No matter how long that takes! That was the hardest part. We think it’s a failing on our part because we couldn’t work with someone or perhaps we didn’t feel we had an equal standing in our treatment. But it’s not our failing it is simply the reality of the health care system. I have had to come to this conclusion the hard way. The painful way.
Sadly it is one of the hardest, most frustrating and, at times, heartbreaking realities of life with chronic health problems in that we won’t and can’t work with all specialists and we have to keep looking until we find the ones we can work with.
Just like we are all different people, there are all different doctors. Some work better with others and some don’t work at all.
If we accept that this is just a fact, and not a personal failing on either part, we can get closer to coping with our health challenges better.
I used to beat myself up. I used to let myself be spoken down to. I used to let my concerns be ignored. I used to believe it was all my fault. I used to feel so horribly depressed and worthless when I had to keep searching or didn’t like the care or support I was getting… it has taken years of hard knocks to learn how to process it all and keep going.
Now I look for doctors that care. Doctors that listen. Doctors who understand that I am the best source of information about what is going on with me and how I feel. I appreciate someone who says and acts as though I matter and they are prepared to work with me.
I need them to understand from the get go that I am only there because something is wrong, something is painful, something isn’t working and I am asking for help and support to negotiate my life. I am not asking for miracles. If it’s bad enough for me to be in this room and office, then it better be a priority to them too! Or I go. I move on. I have no other choice.
I don’t go to doctors for things I can cope with myself, or for things I can learn how to negotiate myself. No matter what they are. That has always been the way I look at it. For example, if my hand hurts I will do anything and everything I can for myself before I go to a doctor. That is just me and who I am as a person. If I can solve something for myself I will. When I can’t I expect someone to help put together a plan with me for what to do next…
The best thing we can do as patients is to hold our heads up and be prepared to advocate for ourselves… It’s hard. It’s frightening. It’s frustrating. But it is one of the most important things we can do for our health and our lives.
Be prepared to end a bad relationship and break up with your doctor that doesn’t have a future or no longer works. No matter how many doctors that takes.
… Remember you are worth it!