Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Doctor's Visits

The Dancing Doctor

Last night was the final episode of NY Med.  I’ve shared my love for these shows because they show a behind the scenes look at the places you and I fear most.  I believe that overwhelmingly these programs show the staff in a different light than we’re used to, a more compassionate, almost goofy staff going about their daily business just like you and me.

One of the cases last night was an eighteen-year-old boy with Crohn’s Disease.  Because of his illness, the young man look as if he were about twelve or thirteen, very skinny, and not as tall as one would expect an eighteen year old to be.  The goal for the young man’s surgery was to remove the scarring that has occurred over the years and as well as the damaged part of the intestine.  Watching this young man was inspiring.  What he wanted most was to be able to eat whatever he wanted and be like his friends.

The young man went into surgery with the Chief-of-Surgery at the helm and a very conscientious resident.  The surgeon aside from the Chief-of-Surgery is one of the most prominent gastrointestinal surgeons in the country.  The young man was in good hands.  The surgery was successfully completed, the surgeon spoke with the family and at the end of the show we hear that young man has gained some weight and grown an inch; an enormous success.

When they interviewed the doctor about the case he was ecstatic.  The young man was going to thrive, something that had been out of his reach while facing this debilitating illness.  The sweetest part of the interview was when the doctor began an impromptu tap dance.  He was thrilled that this young man was going to move on to have a fulfilling life.

Surprisingly, this type of lightness and humor was not what we usually see when we go to the doctor.  I’m fortunate to have some fabulous doctors, none who dance, but certainly have shared their own personal life experiences with me, increasing their level of humanity in my eyes.  I still see them as the expert, but they aren’t necessarily on a pedestal.  They are just as human as I am, and when I can connect with them on that level, my confidence level increases, and I feel part of my own healthcare team.

What would you want to now about your doctor?  Have you ever thought to ask?  My healthcare provider has physician profiles on their website to help members choose a physician they feel they can relate.  The profile not only includes their medical training, but their interests and sometimes some personal information about their family.  I utilize this information when I have to make a decision.  I’m not picking a physician who’s passion is the biking and mountain climbing; we wouldn’t have much in common, but I am impressed by the range of interests and passions of these physicians.

Do you feel it would be helpful if you saw your doctor more as a mortal than a demi-god?  What would make you a bit more comfortable with your medical provider?

Posted in coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Doctor's Visits, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

What My Visit to the Vet Taught Me This Week!

You ever watch shows about international homes and the homes don’t have addresses, they have names.  My house is called “The House of 16 Legs”.  Why you might ask?  Because I am blessed to have two dogs and two cats who seem to rule the house…humans are only there to provide kibble, recreation, and treats.

Over the past four or five years my black lab, Tashi, has been fighting a variety of infections.  She got diagnosed with MRSA (a very stubborn, often drug resistant virus), and if that weren’t enough she is allergic to a bunch of plants, weeds, and assorted other allergens.

It’s odd when my dog and I both have our own dermatologists.  It’s odd to even type those words, but it’s true.  Tashi’s dermatologist is also an allergist so she’s got two specialists rolled into one.  This week it was time for our semi-annual check-up to see how she’s doing and to adjust her medications if necessary.

During her routine examination the doctor asked if anything has changed since her last visit.  Fortunately, nothing really changed; her health, her appetite, and her resolve are all flourishing.  She’s getting older and has developed some new maladies, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The next question was specific to her allergies.  The doctor wanted to know how she was doing because here in Colorado we’ve had a tough allergy season.   I commented the only thing I noticed is that she, and my other dog, Bella, have been doing that internal sneeze that sounds like a snort.  When I mentioned that my other dog was also engaged in this snorting the doctor’s ears perked up.  She asked me some more questions and offered a provisional diagnosis.  She believed that both dogs had nasal mites and both needed to be treated of they’d continue to pass it back and forth.

So where am I going with all of this?  Had I not mentioned that my other dog was having the same symptoms, the vet wouldn’t have been able to pursue this line of questioning and detective work.  It never dawned on me that they could have something other than a simple allergic reaction to something in the yard.

How does this translate to you following your diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness?  It is imperative that you share all that’s happening with you to your doctor/medical provider, no matter how insignificant you believe it may be.  After this experience, I have restructured how I will prepare for my doctor visits.  I am more likely to mention things that I previously would have attributed to a medication side effect, change in weather, or exhaustion.  I believe I’ll be more forthcoming with information about my concerns because as I learned, small things can actually be something more serious or complicated than I would have assumed.

What small factoids have you not divulged to your medical provider?  What tidbits of information do you think if you shared would give your medical provider greater insight into your actual health status?  What problems could you possibly avoid if you tell the whole story?

Have you had an experience like this? (Ok maybe not at the vet)  I’d love to hear what happened…share you story in the comment section below and let’s learn from one another!