Have you ever had the feeling that you just weren’t communicating with someone? Have you felt like you were talking but the message wasn’t getting through?
Sometimes it feels like that with my patients, and I’m sure they sometimes feel like that with me. Today I’d like to go over how to talk to your doctor.
First of all, it seems to go without saying, but you must be honest and forthright with your doctor. We need to know what’s REALLY going on. We need to know what, where, when, how long, what makes it worse, what makes it better, and what you’ve tried for whatever symptom you’re having. The more information, the better, and if we ask specific, detailed questions, answer as completely and honestly as you can.
Believe me, we’re not being nosy. (Well, I’m not. I can’t really speak for EVERYONE, LOL.) If I ask if you have pain in your vagina when having sex, or if you lose your erection during sex, there’s a reason for my question. If I ask about your sexual history and past partners, it’s because it impacts your health in a big way.
When talking about a chronic condition, we need to know what you’re doing at home to take care of yourself. Are you exercising, are you smoking (and WHAT are you smoking?), do you check your blood sugar or blood pressure and how often. Please don’t tell me what you think I want to hear. I want to know the truth, because it impacts the advice I will give you.
One more thing to be aware of when talking with your doctor is that if we ask you to do something you are NOT willing or able to do, you have to speak up. I have had patients seem to agree with me, then just never come back. There is always something we can do to move closer to your goals. If you can’t do one thing, we can do something else.
For instance, if you have a medical condition that is not under control, and I want to change your medication to X and you’re not comfortable with that, that’s fine. We can change it to Y instead. Not doing ANYTHING isn’t really an option, but there are a variety of things we can do. We need to decide together. And if medication X causes a problem, I definitely need to hear about it ASAP!
You and your doctor are a team. If you don’t think your doctor is listening to you, call them on it. If they aren’t helping you, make sure they understand clearly what the problem is and what your expectation is. Don’t lose a good doctor because of communication problems!
It all comes down to trust. You need to trust that I hear you and have your best possible health as my goal. I need to trust that you will tell me the truth, both when I ask for it and when I haven’t asked but need to hear it anyway. Especially if you think I won’t like it.
QUESTION: Do you feel like you can talk to your doctor? Why or why not?