Every once in a while, I find something on social media that blows my mind. And, oftentimes, it doesn’t get a whole bunch of notice. However, for me, it’s a bolt from beyond that lights me up with a passionate desire to share it with as many people as humanly possible as quickly as possible.
Well, this little gem came from Tumblr, username sprite-truscum-pepsi, and it’s one of the simplest yet most profound pieces of advice I’ve ever seen or heard on the subject of chronic illness. Specifically, how to get a doctor to listen to you and take you seriously.
For many, having this information is more valuable than gold. And I was blessed enough to find it!
So, if you’ve never been able to get a doctor to listen to you and take you seriously about your chronic illness, do this from now on:
Don’t just tell your doctor ABOUT your pain. Explain to them, in detail, how this pain affects your daily life.
That’s it. That’s the secret. Isn’t it perfect?
Here is a paraphrased version of the original text, combined with my own created examples:
If you’re going to a doctor about anything, instead of just describing your symptoms, describe how the symptoms themselves affect your life.
In this section, I will give examples of ineffective and effective ways to communicate your pain to your doctor.
Patient: “My arm hurts.”
Doctor: “Wait a few days to see if it gets better.”
Patient: “My arm hurts when I straighten it, and it’s preventing me from being able to drive or use my computer at work, so I can’t function properly.”
Doctor: “I see. Well, let’s get an X-Ray on that right away, and I’ll see about referring you for physical therapy.”
Granted, you might not get a doctor who is this polite and understanding. However, this approach will often get you more consideration and usually tests, referrals, and/or a prescription.
Patient: “My stomach hurts.”
Doctor: “Maybe you ate something that didn’t agree with you.”
Patient: “My stomach has been hurting on and off for most of my life, but recently, it’s gotten worse. I have cramps that feel like someone is tightening a belt around my waist, and I have diarrhea so often, I actually had an accident in public the other day.”
Doctor: “Oh. That’s horrible. We’d better figure out what’s causing this, then. I’ll order a stool kit and get you tested for food allergies and parasites.”
In this scenario, you’re telling the doctor something very embarrassing (soiling yourself in public), and, whether he likes it or not, he’s going to imagine it happening to him or someone he cares about. That will (no pun intended) get him right in the gut, and he’ll be moved (again, no pun intended) to do something about it!
Patient: “I’ve been depressed and anxious.”
Doctor: “Everyone goes through that once in the while. Life is stressful.”
Patient: “My depression is really bad. Sometimes, I can’t get out of bed for days. My grades are slipping, and I’m afraid I’m going to flunk out of college. But when I do go to class, I have panic attacks so bad, I have to run back to my dorm. I’m not going to have a future if things keep on like this.”
Doctor: “That sounds terrible. I’m going to refer you to a psychiatrist. But, in the meantime, I’m going to test your thyroid and check for a vitamin B12 deficiency. Speaking of which, what’s your diet like?”
Should You Wish to Pursue Legal Action
Not only does telling your physician the exact effect your condition has on your life greatly improve your chances of getting him to listen to you and take you seriously, it also makes it much easier for you to hold him accountable if he ignores a dangerous condition, and should you wish to pursue legal action in the future.
Another Suggestion for Keeping Yourself Safe and Heard
Record each session with your doctor and tell him you’re doing so (it’s illegal in some states to record someone in secret unless you’re working with law enforcement).
If he asks why, tell him you have a hard time remembering what’s said during appointments, and you want to be sure you don’t miss anything important.
If your doctor does not allow you to record the appointment, or if he gets especially defensive, think seriously about finding another doctor.
Failing this, take a trusted friend or family member with you to every appointment, so they can back you up should something go wrong.
So, there you have it, the sure-fire way to get ANY doctor to listen and take you seriously. Try it, come back, and let me know how it went.
(Oh, and share this with all the spoonies you know!)
Have you been bullied by a doctor? Click on the image below to take a quick anonymous poll.
When it comes to being taken seriously by doctors, you’re not alone! Click on the image below to watch this powerful video. (You might want to break out some tissues.)
Looking for the best chronic pain products? Click on the link below to start shopping my favorite Amazon products!