As a sufferer with a Chronic Illness, it’s more than likely that you’ll have a plethora of new ‘friends’ that you may often see more regularly than your normal friends. GPs, consultants, pharmacists, specialists…the list can feel endless. But not all relationships are a positive one.
So using my experience with all of the above over the last three years, I’ve compiled a list of my top tips on how to optimise your relationship (with even the most difficult professional)…
Remember They Are a Professional
Despite the fact that you might not always agree with them, whoever you have been assigned to see has years of medical training under their belt. It is very easy to assume an ego of ‘its my body, not yours’ when being confronted face to face with consultants, but unfortunately the hospitality mantra of ‘the customer is always right’ does not apply in a Hospital setting. In order to have a healthy relationship with one another, the most important thing is to learn to respect one another.
Know Your Shit
What I have often struggled with, is that the viewpoint of medicine is constantly changing and evolving. Therefore, it’s highly important to do your own research – especially if you want to bring a new thought to the table. As someone who has often found some medical advice a hard pill to swallow (excuse the pun) I know first hand how important it is to go away and do my homework before my next appointment. If you want to have a conversation about alternative treatments, it is good to have done a bit of background research so that you can openly discuss your options.
Master the Listen/Talk Balance
Having open ears in any consultation is always crucial. The person opposite you has got to where they are for a reason, so make sure you absorb as much information from them as possible. However, sitting there in silence isn’t right either. It can be really easy to slip into the habit of feeling overwhelmed by the facts presented to you and to cut through the medical jargon, so make sure that you are vocal with your concerns, thoughts or opinions. You are much more likely to walk away from your appointment feeling more confident if you have been able to have an open dialogue with your consultant compared to feeling agitated or resentful to them if you’ve not been a part of the conversation.
When in Doubt, Ask!
We aren’t all medically trained, so sometimes the lingo can be a little confusing. Especially if, like me, you were diagnosed with a disease that you had barely heard of, it is really important to always ask questions! Often negative relationships or feelings can evolve from misunderstandings, so remember to don’t just ‘hear’ what they are saying, but listen so that you understand. You aren’t expected to be an expert on this, so ask away! No question is a stupid question.
Being in the consultation can often seem like a lot of information crammed into a very short space of time, and you can reflect on your appointment a few hours later like; ‘Huh?’ I always make sure to take notes of every session, even just the check ups, in case there is information provided that I may later like to look back on. Whether it be some notes so that you can do your own research or questions that you then would rather ask an online community, make sure to bring a pen (so old school, just use ‘notes’ section in your phone if you would prefer) and jot down a really brief summary of everything being discussed. That way, you can feel confident that you can ‘pick up where you left off’ even if you have a new consultant – as there is nothing more challenging to having a positive view on the system when you are constantly seeing a new consultant with no continuity. So at the moment they are a bit foggy with your medical history, notes haven’t been passed over correctly or they weren’t on the scene when you had a previous important conversation, you can be there to confidently fill in the blanks!
Hopefully some of the above is helpful and you can bring in a few of the thoughts into your next appointment to ensure a happy and healthy relationship with the medical professional in your life!
Have any other tips? Please share in the comments below! L x