Yes, consider me a health practitioner. However, I am also a chronic patient as living with illness is part of my deck. Being somewhat well educated is officially inherent—I have no choice—and knowing when to seek medical attention is likely my strong suit.
Thus last week when I dragged my pounding head, aching sinuses and tearing, sensitive eyes to an urgent care facility near my home for the inevitable once a year sinus infection, getting an exam to confirm what I already knew and receiving the right drug was my main goal.
Have you seen Despicable Me? If so, you know Dr. Nefario—the half in the bag leader of the iconic minions. Well, I was examined by some version of this movie character and post exam, sinus infection confirmed he offered me one antibiotic (that I suspected was used for vaginal infections) and a steroid. Of course I questioned him not only regarding the antibiotic but also the steroid (it’s a sinus infection and steroids are very serious drugs with a multitude of not so pretty side effects) but he assured me that his choice of meds were the best. I suggested another drug, one that I have used before for my sinus issues and he said this, “I will give you both drugs to take.” In slight shock I replied, “So two antibiotics and a steroid?” He retorted, “You want to get better, don’t you?”
After a very deep breath (I am not one to take anything other than what is absolutely necessary especially in the drug category), I said that I would only go on one antibiotic, not two and no steroids. He accepted my request and went to call in the prescription. At the same time, I hid behind the door in the exam room, surfed the Net on my phone to get some pertinent drug related information and called my trusted pharmacist who confirmed my suspicion—the drug “Dr. Nefario” planned to put me on was not for sinus infections. Thus I immediately requested that he change the prescription and that he did, but with a definitive grimace.
Needless to say, this made me reflect on our current healthcare model that can’t seem to shake the age-old idea that more drugs means better health. And the deep disconnect between patient, condition and doctor. Yes dear readers, it is OK to question your doctor (they are not demigods)!
So do doctors know best? Well in this specific case, NO! And in many others that I have been personally and professionally privy to, NO! I have had the great fortune of working with some truly amazing doctors over the years so I know what good care really is—and the harsh reality is that it’s hard to come by. And many of the “best doctors” are actually much less than that. So how do you navigate your doctor’s orders?
- Trust that you know your body better than anyone else
- Feel confident questioning your doctor; they work for YOU
- If they can’t answer your questions with kindness and caring, then find another partner in your care; they are there to help you feel better, not worse
- Use the Internet to your advantage if diagnosed with anything and if prescribed medication, do a quick search to learn about the drug and potential side effects
- Never leave your doctor’s office without understanding your diagnosis, course of treatment and next steps
We all lead busy lives. Even so, we must be our own health advocates—taking time to care for ourselves and make sure that our doctors are doing the right thing. You don’t want to be taking a drug for an infection down there when the infection is up top!
Stirring the Pot is back with 2 new shows per month on WPPB 88.3 FM so don’t forget to tune in Thursdays at 5:30pm (with an encore Saturdays at 7am). This week it’s True Farm To Table and surely check out the Weekly Yum Recipe.