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Why It's OK (and Encouraged) for You to Question Your Doctors

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A 30 percent increase in my overall quality of life. That was by far my favorite response. I am not even 30 years old and you expect me to accept a 30 percent increase in overall quality of life from constant exhaustion, full body pain and major depression. Now I will admit that I have never taken doctors’ demands at face value. I have been a patient of chronic illness since I was 14 and was seeing an endocrinologist for polycystic ovary syndrome.

I remember one occasion very vividly. I had gone to the children’s hospital with my mother to see my doctor. As I was still a minor, I was referred there. Now this doctor had a habit of ignoring me and speaking to my mother like I was not in the room. My mother had much less of an idea what the medical terms meant than I did. So when the doctor said, “Your daughter needs to do this,” my mother turned to me. I looked straight at this women who had spent years earning a specialized degree, as a 14-year-old and told her, “No, I won’t be doing that.” Her response? She laughed in my face and said, “You are always so funny.” The doctor then turned to my mother and repeated that I needed to do what I had just said I would not be doing.

When we left I told my mother I was not doing it. My mother likely shook her head, but knew I was not kidding. You see, having seen many doctors I have found that they often have no idea how to react to push back from their patients. This leads me to believe they do not frequently receive any. This frankly is quite terrifying to me. You are allowed to ask questions about what they suggest, what they diagnose, and most importantly what they prescribe. Now this isn’t to say they do not know what they are doing – they are highly trained and have spent years working towards degrees in their field. However, they are not in your body and not in your head and the best way to clarify and communicate is to ask questions. Make sure you understand what is happening.

I likely annoy my doctor researching what could potentially help me and what may get me more than a thirty percent increase in my overall quality of life. However, I refuse to accept that as adequate. I refuse to settle for that and if they are willing to be OK with it then I am willing to make sure I turn over every single stone and present every single option I can find to them until I have exhausted all of my options. Lately that has meant asking if there is anything in my medications that can be changed, be it time of day of dosage. Looking at potential new medications and going as far as to present research articles to my doctor when she said she couldn’t find any. Also making an appointment with a new doctor to determine if their specialty in genetics would help. Of course attempting to get someone to tell me if I have hypermobility or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome hypermobility type has been another battle for another story.

Doctors train for years and are a great source of information, but that doesn’t mean you must accept everything that they offer without question. Ask them about what they say. Ask questions about what they offer, about what you find and about what you feel. Communication is key. They cannot read your mind and you cannot utilize their knowledge unless you speak up and push back.

Getty Image by nortonrsx

Originally published: April 5, 2018
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