Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dumb Things Practitioners Have Said

I have heard terrible stories about dumb things practitioners have said to patients.  For me, the worst ones are the ones said to women who are suffering by practitioners who don't know what to do, so they say variations of: "It's in your head."

I hate this for two reasons  One, it's paternalistic and dismissive. Two, everything is in your head.  Your head is connected to your cancer, arthritis, ulcer, aortic artery, and your nameless pain.  And, if you accept the mind body connection and the placebo effect as real, then the head is an integral part of it all.

I have never actually had this happen to me, even though my pain was mysterious and undiagnosed for many years.

The dumbest thing that was said to me was a doctor telling my husband to wait in the waiting room after I had asked if he could join us.

When you're a couple and one of you has pain, it's four hands that are carrying it, and two minds that are bearing it.  My husband's presence in the doctor's office not only gives him information, but gives us both a way to share in whatever is to come; and that makes it all a little bit lighter.

For the doctor, I was pain, not a person.  And he was treating pain, with chemicals.

I insisted Richard join us.  And what could the doctor do but acquiesce.

But it shouldn't have been acquiescence.  It should have been recognition that Richard and I are in this together and are each other's ultimate resources when pain puts the lights out.

What dumb things have practitioners said to you and your partner?


Aviva said...

Crazy. That's just crazy for the doctor to not encourage your husband to come into the exam room. For one thing, if you're in pain, you're not able to focus and remember and understand everything so having an extra set of ears and an extra brain to ask questions is undoubtedly a Good Thing.

The stupidest thing a practitioner said to me was my cardiologist who, when talking about POTS, said that women with it eventually get better on their own. How did he know that? Well, they stop coming in to see him. Apparently it never occurred to him that the reason they stopped seeing him was because he was condescending and dismissive. :P

Family Values said...

Not only is it good to have another set of ears and questions in the room besides your own, but the doctor should be encouraging the spouse in the room for another reason too - so the spouse can hear what's REALLY going on. Let's face it, even those of us who tell our husbands (or wives) about our pain, we usually don't tell them everything or how bad it really hurts. We often do tell the doctor though.

I have had my husband say "I didn't know it was THAT bad" when hearing me speak to the doctor about my problems. It's not that I hid it from him. It's that I try not to make every other word out of my mouth be "ouch/that hurts/I'm in pain/this sucks".

For the record the stupidest thing a practitioner ever said to me was:
doc- "I think I found something that will stop the pain" me- "oh great! What is it?" doc- "here..." and he handed me a sample pack of anti-depressants!!! My husband wanted to punch him (but didn't). Two months later I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, tethered spinal cord and Ehlers Danlos.....but of course it was all in my head :)