Rainbow Hills



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It seems we have a love/hate relationship with doctors – we love them or we hate them. I know when I talk about our doctors I am either praising them to high heaven or about ready to consign them to…the other place.

I was listening to a mom and dad telling a friend about this horrible doctor that they would never see again. I was surprised when I heard the name. It was the fantastic surgeon that had operated on my daughter! How was this possible?

As I listened further, it seemed that this doctor had wanted to perform a more extensive surgery than these parents were ready to accept. Naturally, I do not have all of the facts (given that I was eavesdropping in the first place) but I still would say that he is one of the greatest doctors ever.

Not to say there are not some awful doctors out there and perhaps you really have met some of them, but I think there are factors which sometimes color our perceptions that goes beyond the individual doctor. Here are some of my observations of our troubles with doctors. I hope this puts into perspective your relationship with doctors and puts your doctor back into the “great” category.

Recently, I attended an IBD seminar. I noticed several other parents there. We all were frantically taking notes and asking questions. I recognized the desperation in our actions. We want to find the answer. That there is no answer, no cure, is not acceptable. We’re sure that if we just would read one more book, check out one more web site, go to one more seminar, we’d find it. So how do we feel about the doctors who are not able to cure our children?

Pretty angry.

In fact, just finding out that our children have IBD puts us in a shocked, angry state at first. We don’t want to believe it. This, I think, is a very normal reaction. Somebody must have done something wrong. Perhaps it was the doctor.

On the other hand, how are the doctors feeling about IBD patients that keep coming back with the same symptoms, patients that do not respond well to the accepted treatment, patients that don’t get cured? I’d guess they have their frustrated, angry days also. These feelings may be conveyed to the patient.

Personalities do count in dealing with healthcare. A doctor that seems bossy to you may seem confident to someone else. And it makes a difference if you are used to speaking up or the quiet type, or if you want to be part of the decision making or just want to be given directions.

While we often speak of doctors as if they were god or the devil himself, the truth is they are just people. Some personalities we get along with better than others.

Here’s an example. In the days before it was fairly routine to offer drugs for a colonoscopy there was a local doctor that was of the mind that they weren’t needed. One person I know of changed doctors over this. Another patient who really liked this doctor told him, “I’ll pay for you to have this procedure so you can see how it is without drugs.” The doctor provided the drugs for the test.

To be fair to the doctor, thinking about medicines, treatments, and procedures does change. Also, they are relying on their experience and judgment, as well as current practices and information. There is definitely some latitude of what works for IBDers. So you will find one doctor preferring one method or drug over another. It is a good idea to bring up your own preferences and even biases so you and your doctor can be going in the same direction.

With pressures on doctors to keep visits short, it is a good idea to write down your questions or complaints, and go into the office with this list.

Quality of life is always an issue. If you can’t tolerate the quantity of pills or the frequency suggested then discuss this. If you have reactions to any drugs prescribed, be sure to let the doctor know. If you can’t live with a regime then another option needs to be found. Unfortunately, with IBD, this may be difficult.

Remember you have to be involved. You know your child best. You have valuable information to give to a doctor. Many doctors move from the “worst” to the “greatest” list simply because a patient feels they have been heard.

If you really don’t like your doctor, even if s/he comes recommended to the skies, by all means, find a new one. You should find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable.

I just have to make a comment here on today’s TV ads for drugs. I’m never really clear what condition these advertised drugs are prescribed for, but the people in the ads are always dancing. As they dance on, you are given a rapid, scary list of side affects and told to consult your doctor. In the old days, if you wanted to dance you called Arthur Murray, but now, you call your doctor.


Copyright 1996 - 2002 Arlyn Serber