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Why I Feel Better as a Patient When Doctors Acknowledge My Concerns

I don’t trust doctors easily. The team of specialists at my nephrology unit who have overseen my treatment for the past three years are the only medical professionals I have absolute faith in. I have confidence in them because when I attend an appointment to discuss my illness, test results and treatment, they don’t speak about me as if I’m not there. They talk with me. It’s a very small thing that’s so important to me.

It’s easy for doctors to focus solely on my illness and forget there’s a living, breathing human attached to it. In some ways, I get it: Lupus is a complex disease. I ask questions they can’t answer. But as a patient, it hurts to feel as if I’m forgotten.

I can feel lost in the hurricane of destruction and complications that is lupus. I’m often overshadowed by my chronic illness and the havoc it wreaks.

When a doctor acknowledges my concerns and makes an effort to discuss things with me instead of talking at me, it makes all the difference in my experience. Too often, I visit a general practitioner and walk out feeling as if I haven’t been heard. I frequently leave the clinic feeling frustrated, knowing I’ll be back in a week with the same problem.

I’m not asking for a doctor to take me at my word and assume that I’m right. All I want is to be allowed to explain my issues and express my concerns without being ignored or treated with condescension. I realize I don’t have medical training or experience with diagnosing diseases and prescribing medications. But I do have three years of living up close and personal with my chronic illness. And I think that ought to count for something.

Truthfully, I hate attending doctor’s appointments. I’m tired of staring at clocks in the waiting room, wondering when I’ll finally be seen. I’m sick of raising concerns about specific antibiotics that have caused adverse side effects and being prescribed them anyway. I’m angry I pay an exorbitant amount for 10 minutes of a doctor’s time, only to have them dismiss what I have to say.

Worst of all, the moment I walk out, I know I’ll have to return the following week. And I can only cross my fingers, hoping they’ll listen the next time around.

A version of this story was originally published at Lupus News Today.

Getty Images: Lisa Vlasenko

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