As discussed, I have been in a lot of doctor’s offices lately. For some reason, I also have a lot of friends who have been in a lot of doctor’s offices lately: back problems, kidney stones, knee problems, mystery headaches, and other things much more serious. Is this what happens when we get older?
Anyway, here’s what I’ve learned. Doctors are only human, but some are more human than others.
It seems surprisingly common to make your way through a series of doctors before you figure out exactly what’s going on with your mind or body. But eventually, you’ll find someone who listens to what you’re saying, speaks to you like a human being, understands what’s happening to you, and acts more like a partner than a dictator in making decisions about where to go from here.
On your way to finding this human being who can actually help, here are some tips.
>> Don’t be afraid to look stupid. If a doctor tells you something in a voice that sounds like you should understand, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will. If you don’t understand, go ahead and ask dumb questions. That’s actually the whole point of the conversation.
>> If something is worrying you, bring it up. Even if your doctor doesn’t ask about it, and even if you think it might not be related. Because it might be related! And if you leave with secret worries or concerns, has the appointment really been of value to you?
>> Don’t judge the doctor based on how nice the office is or how pleasant the nurses are. I think it’s hard not to jump to conclusions based on these kinds of early impressions, but you don’t need to have a picnic in the office with the staff, you need a medical opinion.
>> If you’re not satisfied: keep looking. The first (or second or third) doctor you visit may or may not have an answer. And even if he or she does have an answer, it may not be the right one for you. There are few black and whites out there. Keep looking until you find the right shade of grey.
And a final note: when you find a good doctor: listen, ask questions, learn what you can, and follow instructions. She’s the doctor, after all.
Related: my boss gave me this book, which I found really helpful.