Advertisement but some very good communication and the need for that starts with the patient. First think about your behavior. If the doctor remains “the savior” in your eyes, start making some changes in your attitude. It’s your body, your health, why should you abdicate your responsibility? Think of the doctor as a skilled professional who knows more about biochemistry and the way your body should work than you do. If that sounds like we’re describing an auto mechanic or a plumber, consider this: how often do you take your car to a mechanic, simply state, “It doesn’t work right”, and then walk away to let him figure out what your’re talking about? Not often. More than likely he’ll ask you to carefully describe the problems, the sounds and noises, the failures, when they started, how long they’ve been going on, what happens when the trouble begins … and so forth. Most of us realize that the more intelligent we can be with our answers, the better it will be for the mechanic. We try hard to be specific, to tell him as much as we can, so that when we leave the car, he has as many clues as he needs before he begins doing his own check-up. Doctors are people. They are, in a manner of respectfully speaking, body mechanics, and they need your cooperation. When you sit down in your doctor’s office, or are on the examining table, try to be specific. Indicate as strongly as possible that you’re interested in what the problems can mean, that you are trying to be intelligent about the possible solutions, and that most of all, you are willing to learn and to work with him in finding the solutions. Describe the problems in the most careful way possible. If ” it” hurts, describe how and where and when. Now it is true that many doctors feel more comfortable with serious illnesses than with the chronic cases. Even those patients who’ve had serious health problems and have been brought to the safer stages of these problems notice the change in a doctor who is no longer intensely responding to a potential life and death situation. Remember that his entire training has been to respond to these serious, even dangerous, situations and that he’s not been trained to deal with chronic illness. If you indicate a willingness to work with him, he’ll recognize that you are a patient who is not demanding an easy answer … and he’ll relax. Doctors have as many preconceived notions of patients, as we do of them. We have to change our notions that doctors can perform “miracles” without any real need for our help. Showing your willingness to work with your chronic problems will indicate to the doctor that you are willing to join in the responsibility for your own health. At that point, you will be working with a man who is no longer under pressure. Take away that pressure and you open the door to a give and take that will unblock the message and free the communication. One last consideration. It’s nonsense to presume that every single physician can deal with an informed, intelligent, sensitive patient who is willing to share the responsibility for his health. Some physicians can’t make that adjustment. They won’t take the time to talk to you, to explain, to answer questions, to offer direction and guidance. If that’s the case and it might be find another physician. We think you’ll find that your own ability to deal a little differently with your doctor will result in changes on his part, too. It’s not easy to change behavior … for some people it’s impossible. Yet attitudes are a little easier to deal with and if you can start the process by trying to inform yourself about your body, if you can learn to explain what your problems are and if you can be very direct with your doctor about your willingness to work with him to find some solutions, you’ll be delighted with the results. And so will he. The six elements of communication sound so simple. But that simplicity is deceptive. We respond to what we think we hear and see. Our own messages get lost. The ones we pick up are ofen distorted by what we want to hear perception before truth. Being able to communicate is an art that can be learned. We have to be aware and alert. We have to make an effort. But, it’s worth it. If you have a health problem you would like to discuss with us, write us: HEALTH ADVISOR, c/o American Income Life Insurance Company, P.O. Box 208, Waco, Texas 76797. Describe to us the nature of your health problem, whether or not you have seen a doctor and what treatment or medication you were given. From that information, our specialist physicians will answer your letter and respond with advice and suggestions. Please limit your questions to problems concerning digestive or gastro-intestinal disorders. Prepared by: American Digestive Disease Society and the Bernard Rapoport Postgraduate Institute for Digestive Health 16 SEPTEMBER 19, 1980
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