Ah, doctors. I’ve seen my share over the years. I’ve had good ones and not so good ones. I’m sure you can relate. If you’re one of the lucky ones who’ve found doctors you respect and trust, you are a rarity. For the rest of us, here are 10 reasons you should argue with your doctor.
10 Reasons You Should Argue With Your Doctor
1. You know something is wrong with you; but, the doctor won’t order further testing.
Most people will go ten plus years before receiving the proper autoimmune diagnosis. If you suspect something is wrong, it is up to you to argue your case with your doctor. Don’t forget, you are paying this doctor. This means, they work for you. Let me share a little story with you. I had suffered for years with painful attacks in the upper right part of my abdomen. I had mentioned this to my doctor several times. She always said not to worry, it was probably just something I ate. I had just turned thirty; so, I was too young for it to be anything serious, she said. One night, during a particularly bad attack, I had my husband bring me to the urgent care clinic. The doctor on duty took a quick x-ray of my abdomen. She saw an abnormality in my gallbladder immediately. She told me to follow up with my doctor the next day. She would send over the scans. I went to see my doctor the very next day. She looked over the scan and again said she didn’t see anything serious. That’s when I lost my cool! I told her that she was to order an ultrasound, MRI, or whatever else she needed, to find out what was wrong with my belly. And STAT! Well, she gave me what I wanted. I had an ultrasound the next day which showed a swollen gallbladder, filled with stones. The very next morning, I underwent an emergency gallbladder removal. During my surgery, the surgeon discovered birth defects in some of my organs, which he repaired. So, this was a problem I had since birth. I spent years suffering when all the doctors had to do was run a simple ultrasound. If you think something is wrong, it probably is.
2. Sometimes they misdiagnose you. I believe you should always get a second, and sometimes, a third opinion. I know it can get expensive; but, it may actually save you money to be sure you have the right diagnosis. Story #2: When I was about twenty one years old, I began having seizures. I had lots of tests done. My diagnosis was epilepsy. I was put on several medications. Because of these medications, I had to be monitored 24/7. My heart would actually stop, for a brief second, when I was sleeping. Luckily, my body would jerk my heart into pumping again. My grandfather became very worried about the effect the medications were having on my heart. He gradually weaned me off the medications, until I no longer took them. During the same time, the seizures reduced and eventually stopped altogether. I started seeing a different doctor. He said he saw nothing to indicate epilepsy in my tests. Get a second opinion!
3. Sometimes they drop the ball. It’s sad, but true, sometimes they forget about you. Doctors see many people every week. They order many tests every week. Oftentimes, they rely on their staff to relay the results of tests to their patients. Because of human error, test results are lost, patient files are lost, and patients are forgotten. Story #3: My grandmother had visited her doctor several times, with the same symptoms. Finally, her doctor ordered testing. A week after her tests, my grandmother called in for her results. The voice on the other end of the line told her she didn’t think they had received them yet, and that the office would call as soon as they did. One month later, my grandmother still had not received her results. I encouraged her to call and speak directly to her doctor. She did. Her doctor was surprised to hear that her staff had not called her immediately. As it turned out, my grandmother received a diagnosis of Stage 4 Liver Cancer. Nine months later, she died. Now, there is no way of knowing whether she could have been saved with an earlier diagnosis. But, between the time she first went into the doctor’s office, to the time she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, six months had passed. That, to me, is ridiculous. Always call your doctor immediately for results. And, don’t listen to the staff when they say they’ll call. Call anyway!
4. Sometimes they prescribe the wrong or unneeded medication. This happens all the time. I mean, just look at the overuse of antibiotics. Hello! You should always read up on the medications your doctor prescribes. Then, decide if you want to take the risks involved. Also, be sure they weigh you during that visit. If you’ve lost or gained weight since your last appointment, they may need to adjust the dosage. If the drug prescribed is not something you want, ask if there are any alternatives. I do this all the time, since the whole epilepsy debacle. The last time I was at my gastroenterologist, she tried to hand me samples of Metamucil. I pushed her hand away, telling her I was not taking that. I pointed out all of the fake, chemical ingredients in it. She looked at me as if I had two heads. I just told her I’d fix the problem myself. Research your medicine.
5. Sometimes they think it’s all in your head. They do. They think you’re being whiny and dramatic. There is no other explanation as to why they would not order the proper testing. And, something I’ve seen recently, that is even more disturbing, they diagnose you with something just to get you out the door. All of a sudden, you have depression, or panic attacks. You’re left in a confusion because, if you’ve ever seen someone with depression, you know you don’t suffer like they do. You start to question yourself. Don’t! It’s just another way of them telling you they think it’s all in your head.
6. They often don’t know your medical history. Unless you’ve seen the same doctor your entire life, it’s likely they don’t know your history. Many doctors don’t have, or take the time to review your past history. If you’ve moved around from doctor to doctor, like most of us have, it’s unlikely your files have made the trip. I know we all fill out the sheets of paper the doctor gives us when we enter; but, have you ever seen your doctor actually study them. Most of the time, you’re talking, describing your symptoms, while they’re quickly scanning your history. It’s important that you make them aware of your medical history. And, make sure they’re listening.
7. Almost always, they simply rely on the technician who read the test results. When you have a test done, like an MRI, a specially trained technician reads the test and writes out a report for your doctor. Your doctor, then, scans the written report and decides on the course of treatment. Most of the time, the doctor will not review the scans for themselves. They will simply rely on the opinion or expertise of the technician. Story #4: A couple of years ago, I damaged all of the ligaments in one of my knees. I had an MRI done to assess the damage. They gave me a disc of the results to take home. In an earlier point in my life, I took and read x-rays for a chiropractic office. When I got home, I immediately studied the MRI disc, on my computer. I was able to detect the damage caused by my accident, as well as arthritic deterioration. The next day, at my doctor’s office, he told me about the damage from the accident; but, made no mention of the deterioration. I asked him about it. He said he hadn’t looked at the disc. There had been no mention of the problem in the report. Luckily, I brought the disc to his office. I told him to look it over on his computer….now. Sure enough, he saw what I was talking about. And, he agreed that it was odd for someone my age to have that much joint deterioration. Another red flag went up. Ask your doctor if they looked over the films, scans, etc. themselves. If they can’t do it, take them to a doctor who can.
8. Sometimes they don’t ask the right questions. When the right questions are asked, a proper diagnosis can be a little easier to come by. Even the simplest questions, such as does it get worse with heat or cool, or is the pain worse with activity or inactivity, can help your doctor with diagnosis. But, it can’t help, if they don’t ask. Very often, they ask the same questions over and over again. What’s your pain level? When was your last period? Blah, blah, blah! So, if they’re not going to ask, you have to tell them. I found it was most helpful to keep a symptom journal. Twice a day, I would record my temperature and blood pressure. I would also record everything I felt that day, with the time. Each and every symptom, source of relief, or source of worsening was accounted for in the pages of my journal. I kept this for a month. At my next doctor’s visit, I brought out my journal and went through it with my doctor. I didn’t discuss it verbatim; but, I did mention major fluctuations. I received my lupus diagnosis a week later. Because of my journal, my doctor was able to order the proper testing. I still keep a medical journal to this day. I do not write in it every day. I do, however, write down every flare or symptoms that appear and disappear. Keep a health journal to help yourself and your doctor.
9. Sometimes they don’t know enough about your condition or disease. Autoimmune disease is still pretty much a new deal for many doctors. Plus, there are so many of them! Often, doctors have had little or no training on autoimmune disease. Typically, once they figure out you have one, they will refer you to one or more specialists. But, let’s go back to the beginning of this problem. If they don’t know much about autoimmune disease, how are they even expected to diagnose you. If you suspect your doctor is not hip to the whole autoimmune thing, simply ask for a referral to a specialist. In most cases, they will have an idea of what type of specialist you need to see.
10. They are human. Doctors are human. They get tired, annoyed, and have bad days, like us all. They also make mistakes, just like we do. Many of you may think I’m slamming doctors in this post. Well, I am a little. I suffered needlessly for many years because I couldn’t find a good doctor. My grandmother lost her life because of a doctor’s negligence. I, and my family, have all been victims of bad doctors. But, they’re only human. I have also seen a couple of good doctors, like the emergency care doctor that found my gallbladder problem. Weirdly enough, every good doctor I’ve met was in an emergency room. These doctors are trained to work swiftly to help people. Apparently, that makes a big difference. Just remember, they’re not all super heroes. They are all human.
I know this was kind of a weird post for me. This reflects my personal experiences and stories. It is simply ridiculous to me that so many people are having to suffer, for so many years. That shows a definite problem in our healthcare system. And, let’s not even mention the lack of nutritional training for doctors. Oops, I just mentioned it. In many cases, we’ve been left to figure things out on our own. We’ve been left to treat ourselves. Thankfully, we have the AIP community and people like Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, who can explain the science behind autoimmune disease and provide helpful dietary and lifestyle solutions.
I hope my 10 Reasons You Should Argue With Your Doctor helps you get more from your doctors’ appointments. I would love to hear your stories and tips to better doctor visits. Please share in the comments below. If we all help each other, we can stand together for better treatment. Then, doctors will have no choice but to deliver the service we deserve.
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