Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Dr Strange, love

When you live with a chronic illness, spending lots of time in hospital or with your doctor tends to come with the territory. It's a requirement we have as patients in order to maintain as good a level of health as we can. 
So it stands to reason then that we will often end up forming relationships with medical professionals which are based on (preferably mutual) trust and respect. This isn't my very public way of breaking bad news to my partner of course, so let me explain what I mean..
The doctor must treat you with as much dignity and patience as possible, whilst keeping your details confidential and preparing for consultations with as much background as possible to hand. A patient also has responsibilities of course; we are expected to be honest and open about our symptoms, and to follow any given advice to the best of our ability. It's a mutually beneficial relationship that can develop over time.
After several weeks, months and maybe years with the same doctor, these patient/professional relationships can be a massive comfort. It's incredibly reassuring as a patient to feel you are being listened to, and even more importantly; being understood. An unprepared and uninterested doctor makes for an unhappy and anxious patient. 
I've been very lucky with my treatment in the years since my diagnosis. I've felt my consultants and nurses have ensured I'm well aware that help is only a phone call away if I'm really struggling and that their support is always around me like a safety net. Although not literally because that would be really weird. And probably breaking some major rules.
Prior to my eventual diagnosis I was passed from pillar to post before eventually being herded down the right path towards a viable resolution. I realise now how difficult Crohn's can be to diagnose and the various plethora of tests and procedures normally required to get the medical mystery solved. Of course diagnosis is really only the beginning, it can then take an even longer time to find the right form of treatment for each patient. Everyone is different and everyone reacts to treatments and medications in their own unique way, which unfortunately can often require the doctors to start with trial and error until they make a perfect match. Like some warped Blind Date but with medication and patient instead of two lonely singletons. (Where Cilla Back fits in to this analogy I have absolutely no idea.)
How the patient reacts to these treatments can also change over the course of a lifetime as the disease can be so changeable, and annoyingly, incurable. 
When you are lucky enough to have someone in charge of your care who takes the time to get to know you and not just treat you like another pest to cross off their list, it's a truly wonderful thing. This is why is can be so worrying when changing doctors for reasons out with your control. It's an anxious time for a patient and can feel like starting from scratch again. Infuriating, especially if you've previously dealt with someone who knew your condition inside out. Often literally.  
Try your best to help your doctor wherever possible. It's their job to help you feel as good as you  possibly can; hindering that because things are not moving as quickly as you'd like really doesn't help either of you. I'm learning to be more open with my consultants, I usually try and make excuses for my symptoms, or find the answers so they don't have to; but the fact is I'm the sick one and they are the sticking plaster. If I keep that in mind I cant go far wrong.

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