When you suffer from a chronic illness like crohns disease or ulcerative colitis, a good relationship with your doctor is a must. The absence of a therapeutic relationship with your physician can lead to more frustration and anxiety than you are already dealing with just from the physical symptoms of your disease. Both you and your doctor should always be on the same page and you should trust your doctor as much as you possibly can with your care. If you don’t understand something that he/she is saying, you should be able to ask enough questions until you are fully aware of what is going on with your body and your treatment plan. A physician doesn’t need to be a friend; he/she just needs to be someone that you feel is on your team, working with you to improve your quality of life and making things easier for you however possible.
So, why does it seem like there is an enormous absence of decent doctors? This is something that I have struggled with for quite some time. Doctors should be kind, considerate and empathetic. Physicians should call patients back in a timely manner, or delegate that responsibility to someone who has extensive medical knowledge. I know it can be difficult to control the wait time in a doctors’ office but sometimes it can be helped. Allotting enough time to see each patient shouldn’t be such a huge deal in my opinion. I cannot tell you how many times I have been forced to wait for a doctor to see me for close to two hours in utter agony. My first gastroenterologist took a week to return a phone call. A week! I had blood coming out of me constantly, was on mega doses of steroids, had no idea what was going on nor did my parents and she took a week to call back. My relationship with her definitely didn’t last long.
I have clearly seen my fair share of doctors and have talked to many patients about their experiences with various physicians. Sometimes when I hear, “You HAVE to see this doctor- He is amazing…he listens, he understands and he even calls back,” I think WHY IS THIS SO SHOCKING? Why are we constantly so amazed when doctors do what doctors should do? Doctors should be empathetic. Doctors SHOULD be kind and understanding. When I had my issue with my ileostomy last week and the bag leaked all over and I commented on how nice and understanding my doctor was…it made me take a step back and think “wait a minute. Why am I praising someone for doing their job? For being a human being?” We are all guilty of it. I am too. It is the culture we live in.
It is strange in a way because in many ways a lot of patients look at doctors with enormous distrust and hatred. After all, they obviously represent a lot of negative in a person’s life. But with this distrust and hatred of the medical profession that so many of us feel…why do we accept so little from our doctors? I was upset the other day because I seem to have developed a lovely relationship with my new neurologist’s secretary but I haven’t been able to get him on the phone. My friend Sara said something that stuck out at me which was “Why is it so difficult to find someone to trust with our care?” Why is it so difficult to find a doctor who understands, listens, calls back, is a human being, etc? These aren’t off the chart expectations here. It just baffles me when so many of us, myself included, get so excited when a doctor does exactly what a doctor should.
Always be sure to find a doctor who doesn’t add stress in your life because for those of us who have had to have a relationship with far too many doctors in our lifetime, we can all tell you that some really do just cause unwanted and unnecessary anxiety. Find the doctor that works well for you, as a team.