I always have been taught generally that doctors and nurses were good and were there to take care of you when you are sick. That’s lovely isn’t it? Approximately November 2008 was when I started to learn more about the nuances of making use of the healthcare system; doctors, nurses, insurance, billing departments… all of it… I had no idea that there was more to engaging in the system of medical services than just going to the doctor and they making you better. No Poster Girl discusses the idea of being sick successfully, which doesn’t mean getting well but learning to both manage and deal with your interactions with the health care system. Her own post has inspired a post of my own…
Engaging the medical system has taught me:
I had to listen and keep records of my interactions with medical folk. I wasn’t just going to the doctor to get a prescription for a cold, I was going to the doctor for something I would have to go back for again and again. Also, be sure to remember whatever tests you are having. My mother whom I’ve probably mentioned several times is my support that I make most aware of things like that, she always seems to remember to ask the questions I don’t, and of course, I have the benefit of her experience in engaging the medical system.
Medical folks wanted to know history and what I was taking, accurately and quickly. I observed both my mother and an aunt keeping a written or printed list of their ongoing medications. Pretty nifty idea, because I usually can never remember the milligrams of each, and a piece of paper the size of a business card is easier to carry than a bunch of bottles. This always helps when filling out those new patient forms, and remember, every new referral means a new set of new patient forms!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you will inevitably run into a doctor who is a paternalistic asshole who thinks Dr. Daddy knows best (probably more than once)… You have the option of running if you can, or enduring for long enough to get whatever you are doing taken care of.
The truth is, I had never had an instance of someone that was supposed to be a professional not take my pain seriously. However, in my reading, I found countless other accounts of that very thing, especially toward women. I also have read accounts of folks who actually had a harder time getting their pain taken seriously because they were also taking a psychotropic medication. So, yeah, definitely some misconceptions of people receiving mental health care going on there from a person who is supposed to know better. One of the things I’ve learned in my reading is that if you want a doctor to take your pain (and mental health symptoms for that matter) seriously is to take another person who is close to you with you, like a parent or partner. Let them describe their observations of your symptoms also, if only for a second. Additionally, having a second person present can help you remember all that was discussed and there would also be a “witness” of the visit.
As it turns out, patients and undiagnosed patients specifically often have a difficult time in the medical system. Take Us Seriously was founded by a patient who sought a correct diagnosis for more than 30 years, Take Us Seriously is a non-profit organization that helps undiagnosed and misdiagnosed patients. Check it out… Also, be sure to visit No Poster Girl…