What Really Matters

Blogging over at See First, Evan Falchuk writes:

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Being sick is bad, and for a million reasons. I think the worst is the feeling of powerlessness. Yes, there are terrific doctors and more new tests and treatments than ever. But your fate depends on factors beyond your ability to control.

Doctors and nurses know this, because they see it every day.  But most non-clinicians don’t.  So the terrible reality of illness and the helplessness that comes with it is new, and difficult.  As a patient, or the family member of one, you look to the doctors in charge to help you make sense of this distressing and unfamiliar situation.  In an inherently uncontrollable situation, helping you deal with this is one thing doctors actually can control…

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The remainder of the article is equally well written.

Be Specific

November, I decided, will be No Doctor Appointments Month.

It seemed like such a simple goal.

At least it seemed simple until the past couple days when I saw my doctors.  How does one convey the thought, “You’re a good doctor and a really nice person, but I don’t want to see you for a while.  I’m not talking about a five-year absence or anything extensive.  Let’s just skip November.  One month doesn’t seem too much to ask.”

  • I got my seasonal flu shot.  My PCP is out of H1N1 vaccine and wants me to phone.  Next week.  He must’ve thought I was crazy when I said, “That’s November!
  • I saw the podiatrist again and was measured for custom orthotics.  They should arrive in two weeks.
  • In small-talk with my rheumy’s nurse, I joked about my having designated November No Doctor Appointments Month.  The rheumy seemed to understand, but still wanted a one-month follow-up.

In the spirit of specificity:

  • The H1N1 shot will be given by a nurse.  I won’t see the doctor.
  • The podiatrist’s nurse will see me when I have to go to that office.  Again, I won’t see the doctor.
  • The rheumy’s schedule was swamped so I was able to put that appointment off long enough to push it into December.

I saw no doctors during the month of April; a second month out of the entire year does not seem unreasonable.  I designated November as No Doctor Appointments Month.  I got what I asked for.  Next time I will be specific:  No Medical Appointments.