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The Doctor Who Doesn't Listen

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In generations past, our parents and grandparents took their doctor’s word as gospel. They rarely questioned a doctor’s credentials or recommendations. Back then, a general practitioner was a lifelong family doctor who looked at all of a patient’s concerns and didn’t just automatically refer them to a specialist. Gone are the days of doctor home visits. Yeah, I am old enough to remember my doctor carrying his black medical bag and sitting next to me on my bed as a child. “Say, ahhh.”

What I don’t get these days is why, in my experience, so many doctors easily dismiss a patient’s concerns, refuse to listen or even worse — claim to be an expert in something they clearly are not well-versed in. I don’t have the answer. And apparently, neither do they.

When a doctor does not listen to a patient and makes assumptions, they can be putting their patient at great risk. As Canadian physician, Sir William Osler once said, “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis.”

With patients suffering long-term symptoms, chronic illnesses, as well as “invisible” illnesses like Lyme disease, just getting to the doctor can be a feat in itself. To then use what little energy you have waiting and hoping for a chance to clearly communicate your concerns can be extremely stressful when the doctor doesn’t take their patient seriously or pretends to be an expert.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful, brilliant, caring doctors out there. This is not about that rare breed. This is about the doctors who let you hang on to their every word or send you running out the door in tears.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all could have our own Dr. House? As abrupt and arrogant as he portrayed, he looked beyond the text books and the main stream assumptions to get to the root cause. That is make believe. That is TV. Unfortunately, our symptoms and concerns are real life dramas.

Follow this journey on A Journey in Lyme.

Getty image via Anchalee Phanmaha

Originally published: July 2, 2019
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