My name is April, but everyone calls me Elle. I’m 26 years old, I live in Brooklyn and I have a yorkie named Frankie. I’m involved in lots of philanthropic work, including educating girls in third world countries. I recycle, I volunteer in soup kitchens, animal shelters and at other charitable events. I’m told I have a wicked sense of humor and I can always make someone laugh. I’m pretty normal for a twenty-something.
(Except for the fact I’m currently undergoing diagnostics for cancer and it’s something I’ve been dealing with since I was 17 years old. Sadly, as the rates of cancer increase, cancer is becoming increasingly “normal” for young women like myself.) I love poetry, long walks on the beach and poking dead jellyfish with a stick to see if they make a “POP!” sound. Yep, I’m totally normal.
Babies and puppies love me. Women wish they had my shoe collection. Men send me marriage proposals via Twitter messages sometimes. Most people that meet me love me. Except…my doctor(s). (And a an ex-boyfriend or two.)
Yes, that’s right. I think my doctor(s) dislike me. Most women my age are worried about whether the hot new guy from accounting likes them, not their doctor, and a lot of my peers don’t even visit their doctors enough for their doctor to even remember a name; let alone have a relationship. Considering my situation, I see a lot of doctors a lot. I was in the hospital or at the doctor’s office 4 days this week alone. Needless to say, like any good relationship, sometimes me & the docs need some space; unfortunately, we can’t always get it because there’s a job to get done. My job is to heal and these guys are supposed to guide me. (Or….should I be guiding them?)
Given that a doctor is in a helping profession, it’s a little awkward when your doctor dislikes you; doubly so if it’s a gynecologist or anyone who may have you in stirrups, with access to your lady lumps. (And hopefully you really don’t have any suspicious lumps.)
But it may be necessary. If my doctor doesn’t think I’m a pain in the ass, I’m not doing my job.
This is a typical example of why my doctor(s) find me to be a pain in the derriere:
My doctor and I are going over blood test results. My carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are high, which I notice before he gives me my results.
Doctor: “Tests are good.”
Me: “I’m looking at the same piece of paper as you. It says my Co2 is high….”
Doctor: “Don’t worry about that, it’s not that important.”
Me: “If it’s not important, why do they measure it? If my Co2 is high, that means my cells aren’t getting enough oxygen, right?”
Doctor: “Well, yes, that would have to be the inference.”
Me: “Well if I’m not getting enough oxygen to my cells, that’s not a good look. Cancer cells thrive in anaerobic, oxygen depleted environment. That means my body is a friendly and fertile environment for the little rascals.”
Doctor: (Silence. Blank stare.)
- Your doctor works for you. You’re his boss.
- All bosses have some type of relationship with their employees. Since your doctor works for you, you need to develop a relationship with your doctor; especially since you’re working together towards a common goal.
- Like any good relationship, there needs to be room for feedback from both parties.
- You hired the doctor and you can fire the doctor.
- We’re conditioned to think of doctors as the ultimate authorities on our bodies and medicine. But you are your own expert on your body. You know your body because you live with yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel like something is wrong!
- Take your power back and take charge of your health. It’s not your doctor’s job to keep you healthy. It’s your job to keep you healthy. This means being prepared: Know your symptoms. Think of your questions. Gather your facts. Ask your questions. Compare it with what you know. If it doesn’t make sense to you, speak up!
- Doctors are human; they aren’t infallible. They have good days, bad days and make mistakes. If you recognize something is wrong, speak up!
- It’s okay to revert to toddler tactics in the doctor’s office – Ask “Why?” as much as you want!
- Don’t expect your doctor to remember your history off the top of his head. Don’t expect him to have read your chart before he comes in, either. While these things would be nice, they hardly happen. Managed care models of medicine have doctors seeing a crazy amount of patients in a short period of time. Think back to grade school and pretend you’re writing a story- assume your audience knows nothing, and start from there.
- Toddler tactic time: Negative attention is better than no attention. It’s better to be thought of as a patient who’s a pain in the butt as opposed to having a tombstone that says “I told you I was sick”.
- Once your doctor learns that you’re always going to have conversation for him, he’ll take more time with you to avoid having to hear you and avoid having his ego bruised. You’ll receive better care because they will have learned they can’t cut corners with you.
- Don’t forget to be polite. Say “please”, “thank you” and acknowledge them for their time.
- Remember that the employees of an organization are only as good as the boss.