IMPORTANT: You Are The Client. You Are Paying For A Service
If you only read one line of this blog, I hope it is the one directly above this one.
Doctors are well paid. Even in Australia, where you personally don't pay much, they are being well paid. To the tune of hundreds of dollars and hour. They are being paid hundreds of dollars an hour to treat you and manage your health care needs, and if you let them get away with NOT doing those things, they are still getting paid. They are getting paid for doing nothing. For providing a terrible service. And its all tax payer money going to waste.
Put on your goddamn 'can I speak the manager' face. Make it very clear what the roles are. You are not a child, to be lectured. You are not 'lucky' to be seeing them. They are being paid A LOT OF MONEY to treat your medical conditions, and part of that is treating you with respect and dignity.
And if they fail on any of those counts, you are within your right to voice your complaints.
And you can voice those complaints to the Health Ombudsmen. For more info on that, go here:
Shop For A Better Doctor
Furthermore, if you are unhappy with your doctor, find another one. I know finding a new doctor is a pain, I know every time you meet a new doctor it is stressful, disheartening and often embarrassing. Its rare that chronic illness doesn't come with elements we don't really want to talk about. However, staying long term with a doctor who you dislike, who id disrespectful and makes you feel miserable, is going to have a long-term impact on your health. You'll avoid going to see them, even when you need to, and they will probably miss key diagnosis, that could prove fatal. Worst still, there may be a simple, safe treatment option you are never offered, because they didn't do the research.
I have some tips for finding a good doctor though.
1. Try a lot of them. If you decide one of the earlier ones needs another chance, or was the best of a bad bunch, go back to them.
2. Ask for recommendations, either from local chronically ill friends or online in chronic illness groups and forums.
3. Take a printed sheet that outlines everything clearly. This should include your current medications, any allergies, current symptoms and any previous diagnoses, along with a concise, but detailed medical history. Make sure to include any drugs you have tried in the past, and why you stopped taking them.
Ask them to scan it and put it in your medical file.
Its generally a good idea to keep an updated medical file like this at all times. On your computer, at least, or even printed on your person in case you end up in ER. It will be helpful for doctors, and it will also protect you in several ways. First, it will spare you from forgetting anything. And secondly, you have a printed record of what you have shown a doctor, and you have watch them read it. So, in the case of negligence, you can hold it up in court and say: "This is the print out they were given. It was scanned and is in their computer system."
Its Better To Go Away, Do Research, Then Come Back
If a doctor suggests a treatment plan, a new medication or any other long-term changes and it is not something you are already well educated on, its worth going away, researching it and coming back with questions when you are better educated on the topic. This is particularly relevant for medications that have dangers side effects, and any exercise or weight loss plans.
Doctors generally don't want to answer a lot of questions about these things, because they often haven't done the research themselves. This should be a huge red flag for you. Doctors should know what they are prescribing, and they should have read the research on success and failure rates before they suggest a course of action.
Know What Questions To Ask
Words are hard. I'm an author, my life is all about how hard words are. However, you'd be surprised what you find on google, if you know what to key words to search for. Try searches like:
'Things to ask your doctor about weight loss.' (About 33,300,000 results)
'Things to ask your doctor about diabetes.' (About 2,770,000 results)
'Things to ask your doctor about new prescriptions.' (About 3,980,000 results)
Make a list. Print that fucker out and leave space to write down their answers. Let them see you writing down their answers. Trust me, they really start paying attention and doing what they're supposed to when they see you taking notes.
Taking notes is also fantastic for when you have brain fog later and have no recollection whatsoever of what was said.
Have An Idea What You Want Before You Go In
You know those jokes about men being clueless to what women want? The sexist ones that infantilise men and allow them to get away with bad behaviour? Yeah, I hate those. But apply them to your doctor.
When to visit a doctor, state the problem you are having very clearly, but then also state the OUTCOME you want very clearly.
EG: Problem: "I have a terrible pain in my upper right abdomen."
Outcome: "I want this problem investigated until we have a definitive cause, however many tests that takes."
OR: "I believe it is X, but it is stopping me from achieving X. I want a pain management plan that addresses it, allowing me to do X."
Giving them a very specific goal to work toward is best for you and them. It tells them what you expect and that you aren't going to stop hounding them until the goal is achieved. It gives them a starting and an ending place for the issue.
If possible, gently encourage them to repeat the desired outcome, out loud. Say something like: "Just so we're on the same page, what is the desired outcome here?" If they can't repeat what you literally just said, rinse and repeat.
Don't Be Afraid To Remind Your Doctor To Do Their Damn Job
Once I described a problem I was having to my doctor.
Doctor: "Mm, yes, that does sound frustrating. I don't know what would cause that."
Me: "However its your job to find out what is causing it, so how are we going to go about that?"
He looked surprised. He ordered tests. You don't have to be rude or confrontational, in fact, I would say that would hinder you, but you do have to be firm and confident. This is their job. Their job is to make diagnoses and prescribe treatments that will fix or alleviate the health problem you are having. They are being paid a lot of money to do this.
If you hired a cleaner and they came to your house, played your CDs for a bit, and then left, you wouldn't pay them. So why are doctors getting paid for NOT DOING THEIR DAMN JOB?
Mostly, its because we feel inferior to our doctors and superior to our cleaners. And we are wrong to feel that way on both counts. In both cases, we are a client, hiring a professional to provide us with a service. We should treat them with equal respect and have equal expectations that they do the job they are being paid to do.
Doctors are not holy beings. They are not better than you. They are a professional, providing you with a service. And you have every right to receive the service you are paying for.
So that's it. My guide for dealing with medical professionals without killing them or yourself. I hope you got some tips from my many, MANY years dealing with hundreds of doctors. I have had some truly bad ones. From doctors who have been verbally abusive and negligent, to doctors who meant well, but almost killed me anyway.
Thankfully these days, using the tools and methods I have discussed, I have a great GP and a truly brilliant physician assisting me with my medical care. They're not saviours, I won't be throwing them a parade any time soon. They are professionals who do the job they are paid to do. I find them enjoyable to speak to, pleasant to be around and helpful when it comes to my frankly very difficult medical situation. I wouldn't ask for better.
I hope you can find the same.