Thursday, July 29, 2010

Love your doctor

Mom and Dad live in a small town. For this reason there are only a handful of oncologists. Mom selected hers during her first battle with breast cancer. Four years later when Dad was diagnosed with cancer, he went to the same oncologist. And two years after that when Mom's cancer returned, she too went back to this same oncologist.
As Dad's cancer progressed I fought with him weekly to find another oncologist. I was certain this guy didn't know what he was doing. My sister and I both offered to drive him to John Hopkins, or the Cleveland Clinic. Dad did eventually go to both of these famous hospitals, but only when his oncologist had referred him to a friend of his there. Every time I brought it up to my Mom she would smile and say "oh I could never do that to him, I could never switch to another doctor".
During the last year of his life Mom and Dad had joint appointments. They would go in together in the same room, talk about Dad and then talk about Mom. Then they'd walk over to the chemo room always together.
It wasn't until about 2 months after Dad died that I finally understood. I had called Mom to ask her how her appointment had gone. She told me it was so hard, and when I asked her what was wrong she said slowly "well, it was the first time I had ever been in that room without your Dad. I got in there and sat on the table and could not stop crying. Dr Red* came in and immediately got the nurse and she held me as he got me a glass of water. Then he talked to me for a good 20 minutes about how it would get easier and it would get better, and I just had to keep pushing myself forward one day at a time. And he's right, and he was so helpful".
It wasn't until that point that I finally understood that Mom and Dad trusted Dr Red. And that is the most important thing to have in a relationship with your doctor. If you don't trust them you will not be honest with them, and then you will never get the health care you need. You need to be able to be open and honest with your doctor and feel comfortable talking to them about anything and everything. And then you need to do it.
I love both of my doctors. I love my oncologist, he is by far the best doctor I have ever had. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and a positive outlook, yet he can be stern and is not afraid to tell you the bad news straight out. The first day I met him he told me, "you are going to hate me, and then you are going to really really hate me, and then slowly you will like me again". Not only do I like him again, I actually look forward to seeing him, and to going to appointments!
I feel the same way about my diabetes doctor. He treats me like an equal, and always takes the time to explain to me in detail whatever questions I have. He is always up to speed on the new treatments that have come out, and the new devices, and he always backs his opinion up with facts. My appointments with him always put my mind at ease, and help me to feel more educated on my medical issues.
It's important to form a medical team that you trust, and that you feel help you to feel and be your best. Don't settle for someone you don't like.

It's your health, don't take it for granted!
*names changed to protect the innocent.

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