By: Annette McElhiney
My husband and I (married 54 years in January) have been through many health crises in our lives together. He has had 3 heart surgeries and now lives with stage 4 kidney disease. I soon will be an 8 year survivor of III C ovarian cancer. In most of our early experiences, we often felt we were rushed through Drs visits, spoken to as if we were children, not invited to ask any questions, and not treated as if we had any options. Consequently, we left the visits often feeling confused, alone, and hungry for answers we weren’t given. My guess is that most people, especially those who have had life threatening or altering health problems, have had similar experiences.
In 2008 having had no cancer in my family, I was shocked with the diagnosis. When I was examined by a surgeon, I willingly shared my need to learn more about my disease, surgery, treatment, and prognosis. I said, “Please don’t be offended, but as a former nurse, retired college professor, and curious person, I will be asking lots of question.” The Physician curtly replied “let me ask the questions!” and, immediately, I felt thrust outside of my own health.
Having taught English in college, subconsciously I understood that in my physicians’ world, as a mere patient, I was the outsider, he the insider; he was at the top, and I was at the bottom, far below. The physician had the answers, hence, he asked the questions and, evidently, intended to share little of his knowledge with me.
The bottom line for me was how the relationship between patient and physician can impede effective healing. Looking back, I realize now that, intuitively, I knew after observing that my relationship to my first physician was an up/down one, I needed to find a physician who would actually see and hear me; work with me, not direct me. So I sought a 2nd and 3rd opinion and chose a physician who saw, heard me, and shared his/ her knowledge with me. My husband was my companion in my journey.
To read Annette McElhiney’s full blog post on The Clearity Portal, click here.