What our doctors need to know

What our doctors need to know

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Feb 8, 2017 3:32 pm

I just had lunch with a young friend of mine who was just completing her PhD in psychology. She told me that in many schools, they are only teaching Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). There has been a good deal of research using this therapy, and the initial results are impressive. But it uses techniques that can be taught and learned, but they are still techniques.
And all of the research shows that we must treat people and not symptoms. So, you see where I am going here…

My normal body temperature is around 97.2°. So when my temperature goes up to 99°, I have a fever. I've had many hospital experiences where they don't react to that temperature so I don't get Tylenol or blood tests.
Similarly, my normal blood pressure can be around 90/60 so 85/55 is still normal for me. But when a doctor sees those numbers, many times they race for their prescription pads because they want to treat my numbers.

We need doctors who treat people. We need doctors who will truly listen as we tell our story. A study about 10 years ago showed that doctors interrupt patients on the average of every 12 seconds! In all fairness to doctors, they are rushed beyond reason and or not allocated enough time to spend with their patients.
Nevertheless, not hearing our story is the source of many medical errors.

I want my doctors to know that I might have fear and anxiety or depression that affects my body. I want them to know that my illness will affect not only my daughters and grandson, but my significant other and her daughters and many more. I want my doctors to know that I might live in relationship or a neighborhood that causes stress. I want my doctors to know who they are treating.

And I also want my doctors to know that I deep respect for their great medical knowledge and experience. But I also want my doctors to have the wisdom to understand that although they know medicine, I know my body. I want my doctors to be able to be patient teachers so that I can understand what they are thinking and why. And I want my doctors to be patient students so that I can teach them about who they are treating.

And if they do forget, feel free to suggest they remember one of these lines from the Modern Hippocratic Oath:

"I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick."
www.DrDanGottlieb.com

Re: What our doctors need to know

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Feb 22, 2017 1:57 pm

I was at the doctors a couple of weeks ago and he asked me about my level of pain. Immediately I thought "oh no, not another one of those 1-10 questions with the smiley face on one end and the tearful face on the other."

Happily, I was wrong again. He asked not only if it was burning or stabbing or whether my pain felt hot or not.
And then he wanted to know my experience of pain and what it was like.

He was interested in my pain, not just pain. Treating me and not just my pain. You know, my pain still hurts the same as it ever did, but I feel a little less alone with it. And that's everything.

The experience of pain is isolating. And the people who love us usually compassion for us, but they can also feel burdened. And the burden for our loved ones get worse when they keep making suggestions that either we don't take or reject for reasons of our own.

My advice to those who love someone in chronic pain? Simply understand that we are in pain and suffering. There is not much you can do to help, so your advice and suggestions will frustrate us both. Although we want you to understand our pain, that's not realistic either. The best we can do is understand our own pain. What we need of you is simply to understand that we are in pain and care. Caring changes the experience of pain.
If you can do that for us, perhaps we can both feel less alone.

Please take care
Dan

 
www.DrDanGottlieb.com

Re: What our doctors need to know

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Feb 22, 2017 1:57 pm

I was at the doctors a couple of weeks ago and he asked me about my level of pain. Immediately I thought "oh no, not another one of those 1-10 questions with the smiley face on one end and the tearful face on the other."

Happily, I was wrong again. He asked not only if it was burning or stabbing or whether my pain felt hot or not.
And then he wanted to know my experience of pain and what it was like.

He was interested in my pain, not just pain. Treating me and not just my pain. You know, my pain still hurts the same as it ever did, but I feel a little less alone with it. And that's everything.

The experience of pain is isolating. And the people who love us usually compassion for us, but they can also feel burdened. And the burden for our loved ones get worse when they keep making suggestions that either we don't take or reject for reasons of our own.

My advice to those who love someone in chronic pain? Simply understand that we are in pain and suffering. There is not much you can do to help, so your advice and suggestions will frustrate us both. Although we want you to understand our pain, that's not realistic either. The best we can do is understand our own pain. What we need of you is simply to understand that we are in pain and care. Caring changes the experience of pain.
If you can do that for us, perhaps we can both feel less alone.

Please take care
Dan

 
www.DrDanGottlieb.com

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