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The 4 Truths I Realized From a Stressful Doctor's Visit

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Every day offers plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. When I think I have it all figured out, that’s usually when I am at my most wrong.

During a recent appointment with my ophthalmologist, I had a neurofibromatosis (NF) related question she couldn’t fully address. When she suggested I make an appointment with the NF specialty clinic, I balked.

“Ugh, I haven’t been there in years! It takes forever to get an appointment and they hardly ever run on schedule.”

She simply smiled and replied, “Well, it is a specialty clinic. Bring a book.”

(OK, let me try something different.)

“They tell me my NF is mild and insist on scheduling me with the nurse practitioner. I rarely get to see the neurologist.”

“Kelly, your case is mild. I have patients with NF who are blind.”

(Let me try one more thing)

“Not to mention a whole day will be shot, it’s a two-hour round trip, and parking sucks.”

She just gave me a shoulder shrug for that one.

I realized I had said too much and she wasn’t having it. I think I apologized for taking up too much of her time as I was leaving.

I seethed as I drove home. For starters, I couldn’t bloody see! My eyes were dilated and the sun was blazing, making driving a bit sketchy, but most of all, I was angry at myself. I had wasted valuable appointment time ranting on about issues my doctor has no control over and didn’t seem interested in listening to. And I apologized!

So, I did what any irrational adult would do: I decided to mock my doctor by repeating the words “bring a book” in as many annoying voices as I could.

After I had some time to calm down and reflect upon the battle of wits I had with my doctor, I came to some realizations.

1. Nothing is gained by turning a conversation into an argument.

All I had to say in response to her suggestion was, “Thank you, I will consider that.” Why is offering up excuses and explanations such a hard habit to break? Sharing my negative clinic experience served no constructive purpose. If I truly want to take it up with someone, it will be with the clinic coordinator.

2. Minimizing how another person experiences life’s curveballs is never cool.

I am fully aware my case of NF is mild compared to some. Others have it worse, I get it, but that doesn’t mean my concerns are not valid. Still, I need to remember there will always be someone at the ready to remind me; I have no control over that. I do however, have control over how I react and respond.

3. I will never again apologize for taking up a doctor’s time; it’s my time as well.

They provide services I need and I am willing to pay for. I’m not in the habit of scheduling office visits because I’m lonely and feel like a chat.

4. I don’t have to follow every suggestion a doctor makes.

If I went to see a new doctor every time a doctor told me to, I’d never have any kind of life. Sometimes, you got to break the chain of referrals. At the moment, my NF isn’t much of a bother. I know my body and I’ll go when and if I feel it would be of benefit. And yes, if I go, I will most likely have to wait. I guess I’ll bring a book.

Photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash

Originally published: September 25, 2019
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