Effective communication with your doctor when you have a chronic illness
How to advocate for yourself and get results!
At the age of 31, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis of my neck and lumbar spine. A daunting diagnosis for anyone, let alone for someone who is young and active. My doctor at the time prescribed me pain medication and told me to leave my career as a nursing assistant. I complied with these orders and went on my way, not realizing that along with a chronic illness comes certain responsibilities. We have to look out for ourselves.
Doctors are people. Most are good people who really want to help you. However, without all the information, they will not be able to help you the way they want to. When you encounter any issues with your health, I suggest to write down a list of all the symptoms you are having, monitoring the time of day they are at their worst. Tune into your body, really pay attention, because it has a lot to tell you. This list will help the doctor decide what tests to order and how to proceed.
Now, there is a time in your journey where you may feel the “brush off”. Proceed with confidence and conviction while always remaining respectful. If you do not feel that your concerns are being taken seriously, talk to your doctor and let him know how these ailments are affecting your daily tasks. Express how you are feeling, again approaching with respect and conviction. Talk to him as you do your partner or parents about what’s going on, cry if you feel like it. Have you ever worked a job where you serve endless customers, one after another, and found yourself not noticing their faces while repeating yourself daily? I imagine for doctors working long hours in their stressful environment, the jaded feeling can come and go. By humanizing your conversation, this will bring the connection back and inspire empathy and results!
Now that you have seen the doctor and assuming your tests have been completed, here comes the diagnosis.. I recommend bringing a family member, a friend or a partner with you. Leave the little ones at home if possible. This time is for you and you need to hear everything the doctor is going to tell you. Bringing another adult with you is key because if you get a serious diagnosis, all you will hear is the diagnosis and then chatter. Drawing a blank is very…