Is Your Doctor Really Listening?

It was 1998 and I had just moved to Louisville, Kentucky, very close to where I grew up as a child.  I was returning to my native state to care for my mother who was dying of ovarian cancer and her mother who was bedbound by a stroke.  My life had been interrupted and part of me was okay about that and part of me was not.  Caregiving can be hard.

Having been diagnosed with a rare heart disorder many years before, finding a good cardiologist in town was one of my top priorities along with tending to their health needs as well.

I checked my health plan, researched the local paper, called the university medical centers and settled on a highly regarded, mid-50s, white-haired cardiologist in private practice with an affiliation at one of the medical centers in the area.

Our relationship lasted six months.  Well, maybe one year, but that would be a stretch.

As a former physician assistant, I handled the paperwork and repetitive tests that come with seeing a new doctor without concern.  But the first few months of my move I was miserable and emotionally a wreck.  My mother died within weeks of moving; her mother the next month.  The job I was hired to do was eliminated and I missed passing the bar exam by one point.  I was exhausted and trembling at night from the weight of all the changes and uncertainty in my life.

When the palpitations started, I knew the stress was too much.

“I think I’m depressed,” I said with a lump in my throat to the Midwest cardiologist a bit shocked that I could utter the word.  It was our third visit.  I went on.  “I’m not sleeping well, all I do is cry, and I’m just a bundle of nerves.”

Without looking up from the note he was scribbling in my chart he said, “Have you thought about looking for help on the internet?”

It was all I could do to sit upright on the examining table.  I was shocked and disappointed that this was his best suggestion.

“The internet?” I thought to myself.  “Who is going to hold my hand or hug me on the Internet?”

At that moment I realized I needed a different doctor.  I walked out of his office and never returned.

What I had overlooked was the importance of finding a doctor I meshed with personally.  Not just one who had a prominent title, several clinical trials to his name, and a prestigious academic center standing behind him, but one that could simply look me in the eyes and tell that something wasn’t right.  Someone with empathy and a gentle touch.  Someone I could build a relationship with.

The doctor-patient relationship is delicate; for patients living with chronic conditions or illnesses it means balancing personal rapport with clinical knowledge. For a very long time.  Sometimes all you want are the facts from your doctor.  But sometimes, you want a hug and some encouragement and the personal connection does as much good as any pill.

clients served

Connect with Gwen

Click here to connect with Gwen and rewrite your organization’s patient experience and chart a course to redefining healthcare.
© Copyright 2024 GwenCo Health. All Rights Reserved. | Website Powered and Managed by Liquified Creative.