Every courtroom drama shows a witness getting on the witness stand and swearing to tell the truth. Even though the person swears to tell the truth there is no guarantee other than threat of a perjury charge. Isn’t it interesting that when we go to the doctor we’re not sworn in to tell the truth? We’re allowed to fabricate whatever story we want in the doctor’s office. We’re free to concoct a story about our symptoms, our habits, our reactions in hopes of not seeming as sick or wanting to not “disappoint” the doctor.
Let’s get to the truth. The truth is that the only person we hurt when we don’t tell the truth is ourselves. Not telling the truth doesn’t hurt the doctor. It does make the physician less effective and potentially negligent, but not as a result of their skills or intentions. Maybe you believe that small lies don’t count, but they could have a huge impact on your treatment plan.
One example is those who are on anti-depressants and are asked about their alcohol consumption. People who are embarrassed by their alcohol intake when they were instructed not to drink or to greatly reduce their intake may not be truthful. Is it any wonder that they also report not feeling any better being on the medication?
How about those of you with high cholesterol, putting you at risk for cardio-vascular incidents and the you’ve been told to change your diet. Let me tell you increasing your vegetable intake is important, but putting butter or cheese on it negates the good; but you still get to the tell the doctor that you’re eating more vegetables.
How about the person who wants to believe they’re getting better and minimizes their symptoms to the doctor. Is it worth suffering needlessly just to look good. That only works in the old Billy Crystal comedy sketch where he used to say, “It’s better to look good than to feel good”. If you subscribe to that philosophy you’re doing you and your body a disservice. There are lots of ways for providers to aid you with reducing symptoms, but they need to know about them. That requires you to be honest with yourself and the provider.
At the end of the day the doctor doesn’t have to go home with you and look in the mirror knowing that the information presented wasn’t true. This is about your integrity and why would you want to compromise that?
You may think you’re putting one over on the doctor, but the truth is that you’re only deceiving yourself. The body will expose you through lab tests, exams, and escalation of symptoms or disease progression. Head the troubles off at the pass and partner with your doctor so you get the best care possible. It’s what you owe yourself and what you deserve!