When it comes to our health, we’ve come a long way.
The plenitude of information one can find online, makes it easier to be on top of things. But it can also create unwanted worries.
I lost my father to a medical mistake. From April to August 2010, he was shuffled, misdiagnosed, given the wrong treatments and eventually died post operation. I was in Texas when it all happened. Before leaving, I had asked the doctors if they were going to do anything major on him while I was gone and they had promised me nothing would be decided upon before my return. However, unpredicted developments occurred and he had to have an emergency heart surgery. He didn’t make it.
Had he been more vocal about his symptoms and had the staff listened to the whispers, he probably would have received better care.
I remember him being in rehab after his hip surgery and complaining of pain in the shoulder. The nurses were not listening, just classifying him in the “old complainer” category. Only my dad was not a complainer. For him to even mention pain, it must have been in excruciating.
That leads me to me.
Last week, I was having symptoms that got me worried. Yes, I googled my symptoms, and while it could have been something not worth mentioning, it also could have been the Big C. I felt that something just wasn’t right. I called to get an appointment with my doctor, but he wasn’t available until Monday. I insisted to be seen that day by anybody else available. They gave me an appointment with a Nurse Practitioner who was caring, attentive and did a few tests. I was diagnosed with a potential UTI, sent home with a prescription and told to stay away from Dr. Google.
Only, I’ve had UTIs before and this did NOT feel the same.
I waited a few more days. The pain didn’t go away. If fact, it got worst. It became unbearable.
I called the Health Line, described my symptoms and was told to get to the emergency right away.
So there I went. I waited for hours, but I was seen by a wonderful doctor who listened to my concerns, didn’t act like I came from mars when I suggested that some tests be done, took everything I said seriously and acknowledged that my concerns were, indeed, legitimate. He ordered more testing, referred me to a specialist right away and I didn’t make me wait for months. He knew that if caught too late, things could be dramatic and he didn’t gamble with my health. But I was vocal. I was informed, knowledgeable, insisted that I knew my body well and could tell something was off. I didn’t let my emotions overtake my objectivity. I presented facts and didn’t let anybody dismiss me.
The wealth of information out there can be a challenge for doctors. I know Google can increase hypochondria in the general population. I also know that many doctors do not like to be questioned. But doctors and patients are a team. We now live in a different world where everyone plays an active role in their own health care. That should be regarded as a good thing. All we need to do is find the right balance.