(Image from a post on Watts Up With That by Willis Eschenbach found here.)
About a year ago, I went to a doctor, an internist who came very highly recommended from my nurse coworkers, from people I work with and trust. She was great, they told me. One stop shopping. She even did pap smears in her office, therefore saving a specialist co-pay. “This is my condition,” I told her, “these are my symptoms, and this is why I need to have my blood levels drawn every 90 days, at most.”
This was why I went to her.
Completely ignoring the entire reason for my visit, she proceeded to lecture me on this and that. “I’m writing you a referral for bariatric surgery,” she told me.
“But my health insurance specifically excludes it. If I were in a car wreck, and the only way to save my life was emergency bariatric surgery (crazy hypothetical, I know), I would die before the doctors could get a pre-authorization. Because it’s specifically excluded.”
She talked on and on about how I needed it, blah blah blah. Again, completely ignoring the actual reason for my visit.
“But I’m not a good candidate for it,” I replied. “If I am an emotional eater (which I am) and a compulsive overeater (which I was), it’s actually contraindicated. It’s downright dangerous and life-threatening.”
She pooh-poohed my concerns and, despite my best attempts at redirecting her to the issue at hand—the fact that I have a diagnosed autoimmune disorder which affects my thyroid (and years and years of medical files to prove it), and that THIS was my chief complaint, all else fell secondary, she kept going on and on about surgery.
I knew I’d never trust her because she did not listen.
I understand addressing things and options that, as a doctor, she is both qualified and ethically obligated to present, but, in my self-righteous opinion, those things should have been a) secondary to my actual request and b) consist of an actual discussion, as in a two-way dialogue that actually included active listening.
I had to stay with her until I found a new doctor. And it was disastrous.
By the time I found a new doctor, I was in really, really bad shape. The previous doctor had decreased my Synthroid far too much, too fast, and I was completely mentally and physically dysfunctional. I couldn’t think; I existed in an exhausted fog, incapable of even picking up my feet, so I tripped all the time.
“This is what I need,” I told him in tired tones. I looked at him and pleaded, “Don’t give up on me.”
And we talked, an equal conversation in which I spoke and he responded to my actual words, and not my diagnoses, and I listened, responding to his input. We talked for almost an hour, a thing unheard of in this day of drive-through medicine. He attended to my immediate needs and set up a long-term plan for blood tests and treatment plans.
I trusted him immediately.
The thing is, trust is everything. Trust is the foundation for all relationships. If there is no trust, there is no hope of building a sturdy relationship that can weather bad times, whether it’s with a doctor or a spouse.