I am 25 years old, going on my eighth year of being diagnosed with Crohn’s and it is 4 am as I write (ileostomy livin’-please forgive poor writing). Since my diagnosis I have had 3 primary care physicians, 4 gastroenterologists, several ER doctors, trauma surgeons, nurse practitioners and easily a hundred nurses involved in my care. These numbers don’t include the countless questions I continue to ask of the gastroenterologists I worked alongside and befriended for the past 4 years not the consults (at all hours of the day) with my uncles who are physicians. Like many of you, I have spent more time than I bargained for as a patient.
Being a patient with a chronic disease doesn’t make me enjoy life any less, actually it probably makes me appreciate good times even more but that’s beside the point. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in the world honestly and I feel fortunate to have the people in my life that I do, my doctors and nurses included! Actually, especially these people. You may have read in previous posts about my checkered history with healthcare. As a child I ran out of the pediatrician’s office in my underwear to avoid a shot, as a teen I literally cursed at health care professionals and as a 25 year old I’m trying my hardest to heal up, get back to my education and become a doctor. As I’ve *ahem *ahem ‘advanced in age’ (stopped being such a jackass) my relationship with my diagnosis and especially healthcare professionals has changed dramatically. I’ll assure you this sea change took time, and knowing how bad I was guarantees karma will return the favor in spades in my future. I know I was a pain in the ass. It’s something I regret, but I look forward to the day when a pissed off teen comes through my doors and I can say “it’s okay I understand”. And not just say it, actually mean it.
In a round-about way this begins today’s post that I hope will grow into a larger discussion on the doctor patient relationship. You will find opinions about how to approach this from anyone on the internet but instead of standing on my soapbox and telling you how it is I want ask YOU for help in something I’ve been thinking about. You read everywhere things like ‘five questions to ask your doctor about this’ or ‘ask your doctor about that’ and ‘don’t forget to ask your doctor about such and such’. It’s great to ask your doctor questions, but that’s not what has been on my mind. I’m after something that may help me connect with patients much more in the future.
I want to know the flip side of this scenario…What is one question you wish your doctor WOULD ASK YOU? I’ll go ahead and answer first, I wish I would be asked something to the effect of “How is your quality of life?” It’s actually a really deep question that I think anyone with a chronic disease can relate to. Now I hope its obvious that I’m framing this from the perspective of a doctor with whom you have had a relationship with over time. Personally I would never expect (and would probably be weirded out if) my ER room doc asked about my quality of life as they’re stitching me up or resetting my bones.
I listed my docs over time to show you that out of all that I cannot recall having been asked this question. This is not an indictment of any of my past or current doctors with whom I have spent more then 2 visits. If I’m not really impressed by my doctor, the nurse practioners, nurses or staff you better believe I will be out that door before they had the chance to call my insurance. (Let’s not kid ourselves, they called my insurance before asking about why I needed to go to the doctor).
I don’t want to drag this out and I’m tired so please comment as I am very curious to hear your thoughts…WHAT IS ONE QUESTION YOU WISH YOUR DOCTOR WOULD ASK YOU, YOUR CHILD OR YOUR FAMILY?