The subject of today’s post is the questions we ask ourselves. I remember many years ago (don’t even ask how long ago!) learning the phrase “who, what, where, when, why,” and sometimes even adding how to the end of that. While that lesson was framed in the aspect of writing as a child in school, it can serve us well in this discussion as well. Regardless of whether one is a patient or a physician or other practitioner we can find ourselves wondering about the answers to these questions when interacting with the other.
As a patient, you may be questioning things such as these items, in no particular order, however. What happens from here now that you’ve diagnosed me? Who is the proper physician to see to treat this diagnosis or make it better? Where did this come from? How did it happen? Is it hereditary? How will I know if my kids might develop this also? Why did this happen to me? How will this affect the rest of my life? Will it shorten my life?
As a provider, your patient might seem to insist that you have answers to all these questions. They may get irritated at you if you are unable to answer them despite some just not having a reasonable answer if they even have one at all. Further, you may be questioning yourself as a practitioner of health care whilst being questioned by the patient. What did I miss, should I have been able to make this diagnosis sooner? Why did their particular instance of this condition present so drastically different than any you’ve seen in the past, leading to a delayed diagnosis? Who should I send them to next for appropriate treatment in terms of a specialist or sub-specialist? How could you have possibly missed the signs despite the patient denying most symptoms you asked them about.
We must all realize, from both sides of this discussion, that two things are true in the scenarios presented. First, not everything can be appropriately explained. This holds true in both life in general as well as science and medicine. For some they would be quite happy to finally get a diagnosis even if it wasn’t necessarily a positive one, just to finally know what is going on and that it is, in fact, very real despite the real possibility of them having been referred to psychiatry when the initial lab or imaging results came back negative. It is also a given that it is unlikely that two instances of the same exact disease or illness will present in the very exact same way. There are often mild variations, but sometimes these difference can present as drastic and therefore challenging to the practitioners in making a diagnosis.
Secondly, while it may be a tough diagnosis for the patient to hear from their practitioner, it is also equally as important to try to keep in mind during the emotions running through you at that point in time, that the physician may have just as many questions that he is thinking or feeling. Sit down together and work together as a partnership in your own healthcare to attempt to answer the questions you both may have, and to devise an acceptable and appropriate treatment plan personally tailored for you.
Have you ever found yourself wondering about these questions in your own healthcare? Take a moment and share with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!