A Little TLC is More Than Medicinal

There have been times since Jim died when I felt like this poor unfortunate and sad woman in my sketch - - alone and unprotected.
My new doctor called  me today with some test results from my recent first physical with her. Nothing spectacular going on - "nothing for you to worry about sweetie. You just need some B-12 shots and some vitamins. I will send in a prescription and you come to the office on Friday. Start the B-12 shots and we will talk about everything."

Did you hear that? "Nothing for you to worry about, sweetie."
I don't know what you would like but I liked that casually kind admonition." It is a kind of reassurance I have not felt since Jim died. She had thoroughly read my charts, and called me with the reports of the tests and instructions to make things well.

When I told my sister I had found a new doctor she said, "that's the smartest thing you have done since Jim died. I wish you had done this three years ago." Instead I stayed with a doctor who showed little interest in me as a patient or as aperson, wrote lots of notes but often was too rushed to take my vital signs, and did not inspire confidence. But gradually as I woke up from the initial stupors of grief and paid more attention in the world I recognized that this was not good medical care. I decided to stop complaining about it and to do something. Voila - my new doctor!

My sister is right. Now, I feel that someone is on the job who cares about my well-being.  When the doctor called today I felt like she knew who I was and furthermore that she had my back.

I admit it. Being married to a doctor, especially one who was trained before tests had all the information and one who listened, spoiled me.  He spoiled the members of our family too. He paid attention to each one of us and sent us off to get the appropriate care when it was needed. We are deeply grateful for this loving spoiling and we miss him awfully.

He also modelled being medically responsible for yourself. He paid attention to himself and his awareness of his body saved his life half a dozen times. Jim talked the talk and walked the walk for paying attention to what your body is telling you - - and he acted on his own behalf. He taught us to watch ourselves, to pay attention, and not to smile and ignore a warning. For example: "if you notice a little blood - watch it - if it doesn't go away go to the doctor. Blood is not normal.....and it is not nothing."

I don't expect to have that level of care ever again in my life - - but I know a patient does have a right to be attended by someone who listens well and who is an interested and active part of your care.

Patients do not have to be passive and take less.


Miss Dazey said...

I bet Dr. Jim is happy you found someone different. Perhaps he is reading over her shoulder and an approving the new treatment. I bet hubby Jim helped you find the new doctor.

Anita said...

Your post is important.Four years ago I had a hospital acquired infection. I was referred to a doctor in practice so large that it was impossible to get a hold of him during the many emergencies and relapses. For five months I had to explain my case to whoever answered the phone and had to wait for hours for someone to answer my calls. I was alone in a health crisis for the first time in thirty years. One night I woke up in a sweat and knew I had to get a new doctor. A few days later I was sitting across from my new specialist who'd welcomed me with a warm handshake. I am 5'1" and by then weighed 98lbs and had lost a lot of hair. "So, lets talk for a few minutes, I'd like to ask you a couple of questions, okay? First, tell me how much of your life has been taken over by this illness." The tears welled up as I said, "I think I am my illness." "Tell me what you're most afraid of." I told him, and broke down. He gave me a tissue then reached over and took my hand. "You are going to okay. We'll work together, and though it will take time you are going to be okay. I'll also put you on my 'immediate call back list'." On the exam table a few minutes later I realized I was breathing deeply for the first time in five months. My new doctor had my back and I was safe.
Thanks Ellouise for giving me a reminder.


Anita, thank you for sharing your story. And,glad to hear you found someone who could help you and restore you confidence in getting well. IMO, people have to take charge - not of medicine, we are not trained for that, but for seeing good care - even if it means changing doctors. Best to you.