The secret of why my doctor hates me
Well, maybe hate is too strong….my doctor really doesn't like me. And I’d bet that for most of you, your doctor isn’t one of your raving fans. I’m going to tell you why – and hope that you can both find a little more compassion for each other. For the most part, doctors really want you to be well. Most of them worked hard through school and residency to be bestowed with the right to practice modern medicine. There are some who joined the profession in hopes of a big paycheck or because their family insisted they follow the footsteps of an elder generation. (If you have a doctor in these latter two categories, I encourage you to look for someone else). They want to help people, to heal them. They see it as a heroic profession, and one where they can truly feel useful.
When people come to see them for a broken bone or a case of strep throat, they can jump to action and prescribe a treatment to cure them of their ills. When people come in with signs of cancer or signs of heart disease, they can offer some amazing treatments. The doctors can go home at the end of the day and feel like they really made a difference in someone’s life.
When people with autoimmune disease come in, it’s a different story. There’s not a single best way to treat autoimmune disease. There’s not even a cure. Once your immune system creates antibodies to your own tissue, they never go away. And each person presents with slightly different symptoms, so they can’t recommend the ‘standard approach.’ In some cases, they don’t even know for certain that it is an autoimmune disease. Doctors don't leave their appointment with you feeling like they made a difference.
Many in the community have been so influenced by the pharmaceutical companies that a lot of women go home with a prescription for anti-anxiety meds instead of a lab request for autoimmune antibodies. These doctors really want to help you. They want to give you something that will make you feel better, and the only tool that seems to fit are mood-altering drugs.
The other thing that doctors dislike about the autoimmune overachievers is that the patient probably knows more about their disease than the doctor. When you think about the thousands of conditions that doctors learn about, and the hundreds they see in their office every day, there just isn’t much time to research any one situation in great depth.
But all the autoimmune overachievers have been poring over research and sifting through books, websites, and nutritionists in search of some relief. So, it’s pretty likely that you do know more about your condition than they do. And, for a doctor who is supposed to be the ‘expert’ in health, that's a pretty intimidating place to be.
It’s hard to keep yourself from getting frustrated by all this. After all, it costs an awful lot to see a doctor, and it takes a long time and a boatload of energy – things that us autoimmune overachievers budget closely. You really want to get some answers, and get them now.
Your doctor, if you have a good one, is doing the best they can within the framework where they work. Insurance and regulations really restrict a lot of what they can do in an office visit. The sheer number of patients they see limits their ability to do deeper research. They’re not any more excited about you coming in than you are in going to see them.
But you have the power to change this. Instead of expecting your doctor to have the answers, try sharing your research with them and asking their opinion. Think about your doctor as a consultant or a partner in your healthcare – one who can give you insights into the benefits and risks of the information you’ve found. One who can help you decide if a particular treatment might help you or would be a waste of your time.
Imagine how much more freeing it would be if your doctor appointments were a two-way conversation between people who share a common goal rather than a lecture from someone who is trying to impress you with their knowledge. Don’t you think you’d get better care?
I know, I know – not all doctors are open to this kind of exchange. It might take some looking around to find one. And maybe you don’t even want to. I understand.
You’ll always find a partner when you work with me. In my practice, you are the expert in how you feel, and if you don’t get to speak your mind, then whatever strategy you try is just a shot in the dark. I would much rather look for those things that will make a difference for you, and not try the trendy new thing or the ‘usual approach.’
Read more about my philosophy on this topic in this earlier post.
Feel like you need some more guidance? Connect with me and we’ll talk about your specific situation.