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How To Talk To Doctors


Be Still
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This post is inspired by:

i wish i could think of these things to say and then actually have the guts to say to someone's face.

like when the doc asked "why do you have so many things wrong with you?"

i just get mad! and then clam up.

I?ve thought about what I would say if a doctor would ask, ?Why do you have so many things wrong with you?? This is exactly what I think should be posted here, both the situations and our collective responses. I think we should aim for polite responses, because my experience is that the results are better. Rudeness tends to breed rudeness, anger: anger, etc., so we must be prepared. Doctors are human beings, with a multitude of problems assailing them, and if we respond to their shortcomings with patience and mercy they?ll appreciate it and perhaps recall their manners.

I?m guessing this sort of question is not because they don?t know you have POTS or Dysautonomia; because a simple response to a lack of information could be, ?I have severe Autonomic Imbalance/Dysautonomia/POTS. Every system is affected, including ______.? (Fill in the blank with whatever they are questioning.)

This ?Why?? question a considerable boundary violation. It is rude and insensitive, though perhaps there is an element of humor there that we?re not catching because our lives are not funny to us.

Answers I?ve thought of:

(Courteously) ?I beg your pardon??

(Courteously) ?I?m sorry, could you repeat the question?? (These two responses get the doctor to consider what they are saying.)

(Courteously and calmly) ?Wow, that question seems insensitive to me. How do you think you would feel if your doctor asked that of you?? (More direct, and again, asking for reconsideration of what was said.)

(Gravely courteously) "That, too, is my question and why I seek the expertise of a doctor." (In other words, that's why you're there!)

I truly don?t think this should be answered as a legitimate question, because it is not. It is more likely a demonstration of the doctor?s frustration than any sort of fact finding investigation. (Remember, it?s not uncommon to blame the patient if the doctor is at a loss. No one likes to be at a loss, that?s why we go to doctors.)

The question may possibly have been asked specifically to put you off guard, so clamming up is not the best choice. I understand that the question can shock, that?s the point of this thread to give us tools ahead of time so that we feel more empowered in the grip of a dynamically disempowering illness, and POTS excels at that!

The doctor-patient trust level is crucial and it is destroyed by such boundary violations, that?s why we get so angry (and our BPs and HRs take off, attaining warp speed!) We need to be able to trust our doctor and when that trust gets betrayed by insensitivity, a dismissive attitude, discounting of our suffering, disbelief over our experiences, it becomes impossible to heal under those conditions. A recent paper on POTS stresses that the doctor?s attitude is critical to the patient?s well being.

As for ?Why are you allergic to so many meds?? One response could be, ?I was hoping you could shed light on that.? This reminds them that they are the doctor and you are the patient. They are an expert in the fragment that is known about the operations of the human body, you are an expert in your experience. Don?t ever let any one argue with your experience. How can they? They don?t live in your body.

Unless the doctor does not know you have POTS, these two questions are not legitimate. We cannot do what the medical community itself is failing to do: educate both the medical community and ourselves on why our bodies function as they do.

Please post your difficulties and your ideas on how to respond.

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oh, may you be blessed, Be Still!

what great ideas! i agree those questions aren't valid, but your suggestions as to answers are MUCH better than saying "I don't know" (very vague) or nothing (doc thinks you are unresponsive).

Thanks for posting this. any other ideas? Please please share! i agree, this is the perfect venue to put our collective experience/ideas to use.

love and light,

Lulu :)

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Thanks Be Still;

This is a very good thread!! I know many doctors that come to this site to learn more about dysautonomia. So you may have already enlightened a few. I agree with you. A doctor that asks that kind of question is way out of line. In my opinion it should be considered a breach of ethics with that kind of statement.

Sorry, I haven't had the fortune of having a physician say anything like that to me. I am a very confrontational person and it is very obvious. I don't mind sharing my opinion with others, especially doctors. Remember, a doctor is not employed by your insurance company. They are employed by you.

If a doctor, that is in charge of my care, looked at me and asked me "Why are you so sick?" or "Why do you have so many things wrong with you?" I would stand-up, grab my clothes and walk out of the room, dressed or not. If he questioned why I was leaving I would tell him (or her) that I am going to go ask the American Medical Association, as well as the State Medical Board if they can answer his question for me.

There are other doctors out there that will help you find answers to your questions. My feeling is, if they want to be arogant in asking that question they should also be willing to ask you if you want fries with that.

Sorry for being so forward, but I have seen too many people give up hope because some doctor told them that there was nothing wrong with them, or it was nothing because the doctor gave up looking. Don't give up hope or think all doctors are like this. There are many wonderful doctors out there that are really dedicated to caring for you.

Take care!

KathyP :(

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