Written February 9, 2017
“I find it terrible that doctors refuse to listen to their patients, and to an extent, almost ridicule them, when they try to save themselves from bad advice.” ~Anonymous
I stumbled on this statement while I was researching some information on my health. I left out the patient’s name in the spirit of patient confidentiality. I found it intriguing because I went thru something similar with my own father and now I go thru it. I now understand why they say that patients need to be their own health advocates.
Before he past away, my dad complained of strange pains in his stomach. He’d seen a couple of our local small town doctors and 1 or 2 out of town doctors for his pains. I went with him to a couple of his appointments so I could be his voice since he didn’t know what to ask and I’d worked in health care for a number of years. A CT scan revealed an abdominal aortic aneurysm. But the worse news would come later when we went to the nearest big city hospital that specializes in the heart and circulatory system.
Fast forward to the end of my father’s hospital stay. My dads aneurysm had turned septic. While that was clearing, my dad’s organs began shutting down. His kidneys, the his heart, finally his lungs. After the sepsis cleared, they did surgery. That’s when they found an ulcer in his duodenum and then cirrhosis of his liver. While he was in a medically induced coma so he could heal, the doctor came in the room and discussed his condition. It didn’t look good. “If one more thing happens,” he said “you’ll need to consider how he wanted to live.”
A couple days later the other shoe dropped. My dad was diagnosed with a blood disease very similar to MRSA called Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, or VRE for short. That was the straw that broke my dad’s back and the hearts of my mom, my sister and myself. I’m sure I don’t have to explain all the messy emotions that we felt. I’ll even bet some of you can even identify with me. That was nearly 6yrs ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday.
Now today, I find myself identifying more clearly with what my father went thru. The difference between he and I? I will not stop seeking the answers for the questions I have regarding my health. I’ve been dismissed and disrespected by doctors and nurses while I continue to feel worse. I’ve had countless tubes of blood taken and several tests done with no real results. And yet I feel like if a couple more tests were done I’d have my answer.
What I find very hard to understand is this, many offices have the patient fill out a form asking how you feel since your last visit. When a patient circles more than half of problems on the list, perhaps that patient has something wrong. Sometimes the patient can be a hypochondriac or what the patient is going thru is just part of the aging process but there are many times that this isn’t the case.
Doctors and nurses, I for one know how overwhelming it can be to have a jam packed schedule and you have little to no time to spend with a patient. However the more I talk to people the more I can’t help but think that patients are just dollar signs to you. Also I can’t help but wonder if the patients insurance is lousy and you are reimbursed so little that the patient is not worth your time. I get that. Now I know many of you are not bad doctors and wish for harm to befall your patients. I do however implore you, on behalf of patients like my father and myself, listen to your patients.
If you are a patient yourself, be proactive in your health. Don’t just eat right and exercise. There are all kinds of bacteria and diseases in our world today. If you have been healthy for most of your life and now you’re not so much, be proactive and be respectfully persistent with your healthcare provider. The life you save could be yours or someone you love.
Thought for the day: “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis.” ~Sir William Osler