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3 Words Every Doctor and Nurse Should Live By

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Care, compassion and respect.

Not only were these three words which were spoken about in every one of my undergraduate and graduate counseling courses, but they were actions I witness in various occasions both in academia and in my everyday campus life. Although 2017 marks my five-year anniversary of post-college living, the experiences and lessons which occurred on campus unconsciously influence many decisions in my life. Every so often, an experience reminds me loud and clearly of a lesson I learned during those incredible years.

Care. Compassion. Respect.

Three simple words.

Three actions every human being is entitled to.

This is how I define these words:

Care: My job, as a counselor is the care for the whole person; mind, body and spirit regardless of their social-economic status, religious background, culture, race, disability or sexual orientation. Showing you can is both non-verbal and verbal. Same should be applied to medical professionals.

Compassion: To listen with an open mind, show attentiveness & empathize, not sympathize one’s circumstance.

The “golden rule” – treat others how you want to be treated + never assume, ask questions.

Care. Compassion. Respect.

Three actions which were not shown to me during my latest ER visit.

I’ve faced medical struggles my whole life. I’ve seen more doctors then my age (I’m 26) in the past 10 years and have had too many IVs, procedures, and ER visits to count. I’m at a point in my medical journey where there’s no more searching for diagnoses, rather, I’m managing my chronic illnesses/pain on a daily basis while living.

It took three years after my diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) to feel fully confident in my ability to manage my condition. This didn’t come without a lot of trail and error, a five weeks stay at a state-of-the-art pain rehabilitation program, and a whole lot of perseverance.

I was very blessed to be diagnosed with CRPS by a doctor who was aligned with many of my personal beliefs regarding my medical care. Conservative as possible, with the least amount of medicine invention possible. It worked for about a year, but then pain flares resulted in visits to the ER. It was then, I knew I needed to seek out a more invasive pain management approach for my CRPS. I did my research on treatment options, and was admit about not taking daily opioids, as I had read research that over time this medication actually make chronic pain worse. However, despite voicing my opinion upfront,  pain management doctors in my local area would take one look at me and write a script. I’m not kidding as I said, “I do not want X,” they would write me a script of X, Y & Z!

Thankfully, God sent me the best doctor, only a state away, who started me on the right treatment for my body, and supported me 110 percent when I vocalized my desire to attend a pain rehabilitation program. (Which he now make referrals to.)

Care. Compassion. Respect. Led to results!

Fast forward to present day. After getting diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), I discovered I would need two surgeries which would help to improve the quality of my life. When you live with CRPS, surgery always puts your body at risk for a flare up, but the benefits outweighed the risks.

After the first surgery my CRPS stayed at bay. However, after my my most recent surgery, my CRPS fired up. Prior to this surgery I hadn’t visited an ER for CRPS in two years, and hadn’t needed to undergo a sympathetic nerve block in over nine months! This was all such a big deal in my world, and such a relief, since going to the ER is often scary when you live with CRPS due to lack of knowledge by medical staff.

One my most recent visit to the ER, care, compassion and respect were not shown. This was not a new ER to me. Rather it was a local one which I felt safe going to because previously, a doctor had understood how to help when my pain flares were bad. Most of the time, they respected that I knew what my body needed. IV fluids and a round of two or IV pain medications. However, from the moment I stepped into the area of care, the energy felt different. Judgment was shown both nonverbally and verbally.

The doctor even questioned if I had true CRPS pain. He lacked knowledge that while CRPS often starts in a limb, it can spread to the full body.

I understand drug abuse/addiction is a real problem in our society. I really do. I personally know individuals affected by this disease. I get medical professionals have to be on radar, but there is a difference between asking questions to gather information and questioning because you think a white coat entitles you to power.

To the doctor who shook his head as I was advocating, just because your back was to me while you performed the intake.

To the nurse who never made eye contact with me.

To the doctor who asked what was the cause my flare, and than looked at me with disbelief when I responded honestly.

To those who didn’t feel it was nessacary to inform my mom and I why it was taking two hours to see a doctor, after I expressed I was still in an immense amount of pain.

I am a human.

I deserve care, compassion and respect

I am 26 and live in daily chronic pain. Yes, I understand how it’s confusing how someone so young in this much pain, but it’s my daily reality. You cause more pain when you insisted on checking my reflex, which by the way, in this case wasn’t necessary. I know it’s out of your need to feel you need to “do something” in your exam. Next time, use your words first.

I live in daily pain while being a functional and productive member of society. Honestly it’s like having to play an actress everyday of my life. I can’t let the others in the world know I’m in the amount of pain I feel every day. So, when I show up at your ER, listen to me. Hear me when I say it’s bad. Sometimes I may cry, but other times I’m just trying doing my very best to breath (and that hurts) and use my coping skills to prevent me going more over the edge then my body already is. Getting overwhelmed by emotions is only going to make my pain worse.

Do your job. Ask me information which is needed. Hey, maybe if you really listen, and I mean really, you will learn something from me that might be of helpful to a future patient.

When I advocate for specific medications, it’s not because I want the strongest pain medication out on the market, it’s because it’s the only medication which works on my body – it has something to do with my EDS. Literally the only one.

I’m more intuitive then most, but any person looking in tonight could have seen and noticed you weren’t treating me with the the respect I deserve.

Care, compassion, respect. That’s all I’m asking for.

If you looked in my eyes you would of seen the pain, and that it took me all day (and all my energy) to muster up the courage and strength the visit your ER.

If you could hear my words, you would have asked for permission touch my affected limb and body before you preformed your exam.

If you asked, you would have found out before my surgery my CRPS pain was at all time low and right now my team and I are trying really hard to find the balance in my body.  Right now, my nerves are having a really hard time finding its new normal.

Please provide the next person who walks into your ER with better care, show them compassion, as this will aid in their healing, and give them the respect every human deserves.

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Thinkstock provided by: Antonio_Diaz

Originally published: February 21, 2017
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