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What Chronic Illness Has Taught Me About Doctors and Authority

For the chronic illness patient, seeing doctors is like dating. With each new doctor we see, we wonder if they could be “the one” – the one who makes us feel seen and understood, the one who knows our mysteries and has the key to unlock the door that stands between us and a “normal” life. We dare to hope that they are the knight in shining armor who appears suddenly, sweeps us off our feet and rides away with us into the sunset of good health.

We talk in dreamy tones about our first appointment with the latest doctor. They are confident that they can help us. Their optimism lulls us into a blissful reverie in which our future is a fairy tale of good health and abilities regained. We will not need to question this doctor’s judgment.  They see what the other doctors missed. We can relax, trust them and follow their orders without hesitation. Finally, there is a strong hand on the wheel of our healthcare.

But doctors are not knights in shining armor. Just like you and I, they are flawed and insecure humans. Their knowledge is finite and biases cloud their perceptions. They are sometimes tired and distracted. And we are not damsels in distress. We are queens and kings, and our doctors are royal advisors. They lay their ideas and opinions at our feet, but the scepter, the crown, the decisions, and the consequences of those choices belong to us alone.

This story originally appeared in my chronic illness blog, Mystical Authenticity.

Find more mystical musings on life and chronic illness.

Getty image by Yurii Kifor

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