Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Your doctor is smarter than you are.

A whole lot smarter.

The ability to google and use Web MD doesn't make you more knowledgeable than your physician. And most certainly doesn't make you a physician yourself. Or a PA. Or an NP. Or a Nurse. Or even an MA. Sorry. (Disregard if you actually are one of the above.)

But by all means, be involved in your healthcare.

Be involved in your health care in the way that you form lists of your medications. Make lists of your symptoms. Journal your issues. Keep a diary of your eats. And when applicable, in an organized manner, present all that data to your healthcare provider.

Be on time to your appointments. If you can't make it, reschedule in advance. If you're going to be a few minutes late, call ahead. Bring your knitting or a book to keep you busy while you wait to see the doc. Because you will wait. Get used to the idea. Don't get peeved when you have to twiddle your thumbs for 30 minutes; your provider is just giving another patient the kind of attentive care you demand. When you get to the office and have to wait in the waiting room a while, keep the kvetching to yourself. When you get into the patient room, be patient.

(For trust me, its rare that the doctor is sitting at her desk with her feet up eating a Reese's and surfing J. Crew. She is a busy lady and has more patients that just you and your vaginosis. And believe it or not, she's not got it out for you. She has charts to fill out, calls from the hospital to take, forms to sign, drug reps to brush off, sometimes needs to pee, and, more often than not, is doing her darndest to get into your room to see what's up.)

Once you find yourself face to face with your doc, listen.

And answer the questions you're asked. Concisely.

When scheduling an appointment, be clear with the receptionist about what you're calling to come in for. That way she can settle your appointment appropriately within the day and grant enough time in the schedule.

Don't be embarrassed; trust me, your human papilloma virus isn't nearly as interesting or embarrassing as you think it is. You're not even unique enough to merit gossip during lunch or at home. You're a run-of-the-mill patient. And you're probably a what feels like an incurable pain in her much sat-upon rump.

If we're not already blaming all our mishaps and problems on the economy, we're blaming them on healthcare and very often our healthcare providers. But I maintain that the biggest problem with the healthcare system is the patient. Especially the patient that thinks their doctor is an idiot or a talking prescription pad. Granted, some doctors behave that way--you walk in, tell them what you have, tell them what you want, and they issue a prescription for what you think your needs are, no questions asked. But most of them are intelligent, patient, astute practitioners. And they get treated like refuse by people who did not attend years of medical school yet still think that they have more understanding and knowledge regarding the body and its functionality.


Who cares if this body is yours? I'm doubtful that you understand its neurons and platelets the way your physician does. Even if you are the one that gives it water, washes behind its ears, and changes its clothing.

Oh, and don't you dare blame the drug commercials for making you into a needy, over-confident patient. If you are obtuse enough to think its the drug commercials' fault for sticking an idea in your head that you grasp with vigor and become wholly converted to, you deserve to be sucked in by any and all propaganda the world has to offer. Learn to sift. Learn to read. And above all, learn to locate and trust the right physician for you.

No, our managed care system isn't easy to navigate, but really, what is? Stop being such a baby and find a doctor's office that can guide you to health. And do what they say. Don't tell them what to do. Let them teach you. Ask intelligent questions. Don't make demands. If you're feeling like your relationship with your healthcare provider isn't working out, go someplace else.

And when you find the right physician: do what they say. Take what they tell you when they tell you to do it. Know why they say so. Consult with them. Ask if there is some book or study or pamphlet you should be reading.

Be involved.

But do not, do not, do not go to your doctor's appointment, listen to what she has to say, take the prescription from her hand and then, rather than filling the script, head to your local health food store and ask the guy restocking Rice Dream Pies what to do for strep throat. Or even the lady standing near probiotics how to deal with Celiac disease. That's ignorant and asinine. Grow up and recognize people for what they've been thoroughly educated to help you with.

Rather, ask the guy with the Rice Dream Pies where you can find a mocha flavored one.

And the lady with the probiotics, ask her why not a one of those bottles on the shelves can guarantee their contents or has double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, multi-center clinical study to back up their claims.

And listen to her waffle.


I can't let this go without being said: I have just scanned through my own blog and seen that as of late, I've said the word "stupid" a few too many times. The word has its place, but not here and certainly not that often.

There's been a more-negative-than-usual vibe, and though I can be awfully acerbic and at times offensive, I really am not a full-time Negative Nelly. Really. I promise. (At least so far as I consider the meaning of "negative.") A little secret: I've been experiencing a little something called Stress (heard of it?) lately and it's coming out in my words. When stressed, some people eat (I'm one of them), some people lose weight (I'm not one of them), and some people get a little mean and overstated (I could be one of them).


Anyhow, although I've been going on about how it's sad that my blog has been so negative within the last little bit and Well, well, well, it's not my fault for I've got a whole lot going on and find myself affected, what I'm most bothered about is that I didn't come up with words more interesting and descriptive than "stupid."

How lazy and sterile of me.


Sue said...

Amen. Amen. Amen.

That means I agree, agree, agree.

About the doctor/patient thing, not the you're obviously stressed thing.

Ashley Thalman said...

Vaginosis! Oh my!

Megan said...

Good heaven's, Ash. Did you really have to repeat that? Wasn't one time enough?

Janeen said...

How ironic I just made an appointment with my Physician right before I read your post. I am one on the ones that post my results/digamous and her prescriptions, which is completely detailed, on my fridge and follow it to the letter. But you know that I am a bit ADD in that area.

rabidrunner said...

I had a friend once, (a rather annoying one at that) who insisted that the "homeopathic" route was always the purest and most beneficial. She was always complaining about some ailment and had some "natural" way to cure it. (You'd think that with her cures, it would cease the complaining, but that was just it - they weren't curing anything).

Anyway. I have two stories about said friend. 1) She ended up with recurring UTIs. She'd go to the "health food store" and spend $125 or more on ways to combat this UTI. Thing is, the placebo affect would take hold (cause that'd be embarressing to spend all that cash and not have it work) only to have the UTI back within a week. Finally, after much strong words (from me mostly), she went to a doc. Spent $45 on the doc visit and $15 on the presciption. UTI was gone in 5 or so days.

2) She developed an allergic reaction to her copper IUD. Diagnosed by some quack of course. So I said, "You're gonna take it out, right?" And she said, no. The quack was going to get her some herbs to "desensitize" her to copper. Duh. Reminds me of that old adage... "Doctor, it hurts when I put my finger in my eye!" Well don't put your finger in your eye.

Sorry about your stress. I feel for you. Wish I had some magic to make it all go away... but alas, without the stress, one cannot appreciate the down-times. It's that whole must-have-opposition-in-all-things curse.

Thanks for being you.

Kate said...

I can agree with you on this 99.999999% of the time. But the other 0.000001% I can't.

This is because I went to an appointment yesterday to discover exactly why I miscarried back in Dec. An appointment that I have had delayed month after month by the hospital.

Then when I did get in there, the doc told me off for not taking folic acid at the moment and asked me why I was wasting her time if I wasn't trying to get pregnant.

While I was almost speechless with anger, my fiance asked if she'd actually read my notes. The doc flicked back to the front page, read the first three lines and promptly turned bright red.

Luckily she was the opposite of all the other wonderful staff that cared for me back in December, and just as they got a letter of thanks, she'll get one of disappointment.

But as I said, she was the absolute exception.

Whitney said...


{Erica} said...

100% agree with this post. Don't even get me started...

Anonymous said... offers 49 alternative words for 'stupid'.

Although I, too, have a difficult time tolerating ignorance (or, if you please, ignoranmus-es)...and do, in fact, have a M.A. (though not in the medical field), I sincerely hope that I've not been a stress-exacerbator for you! You did produce one major rant there, woman. I'm a little afraid of you now ;-). ....... And I'd sure want you on MY side if I ever needed an advocate.

Atlantic Beachlife said...

Dang it, I did not press the 'anonymous' button for that comment, preceding this one. I take full responsibility for my comments! I don't hide behind the Anonymous option. Was it because I wrote it on the iPhone? Oops, here I come with the 'moronic' questions.

Backing away from the keybooard now...


Andrea said...

Megan, you are very right with your advice. There is nothing more idotic than one who takes the time to schedule an appt, show up for it, and then not take the advice of one who spent YEARS learning to care for others, not themselves. I love my doctor. He is a complete nerd and can't seem to put an "outfit" (is that word okay to use for a man?) together to save his own life. But, that's how I know he's great...he cares more about his patients than how he looks!

Diane said...

I wish the medical profession was such as science as you described regarding diagnosis and prescriptions...but it's not. So, I'm going to have to take exception to the 100% of the time, but enjoyed the post!

TX Girl said...

I personally think part of the problem is that we, human beings that is, are egotistical. Yet we fail to remember that we didn't go to 4 years of medical school AND complete a residency. If a doctor can't give us the answer immediately, or solve our problem immediately, we think they are ridiculous. Usually we as patients have also forgotten to tell them X,Y,and Z- of course these three things would have been the most important items, yet we don't say a word.

I'd also say don't let a doctor push you out of the room if you still have questions. Make them answer them before you leave.

And don't get me started on pay- $10.00 an hou