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I don't know how to talk to doctors >

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am so frustrated. Every time I see one of my doctors they "lead" me in the direction they want me to go, and I have no chance for questions. It's like I'm a piece on a game board, being moved around where they want me. My PM is the only one who actually listens to me, no matter how long it takes for me to get it all out, but he can't help me with my current problems, since he gave the refferal out for the care of my spine problems.

First, a few months ago, I tried talking to my NS, he interrupted me and I never did get to tell him all my symptoms (my son was there, and he was very angry when we left), and was sent on my way.

Then, I decided I would be better off seeing a physiatrist, so I asked for a referral from the NS, and they sent me to someone that immediately tried to get me on suboxone, to get me off pain pills, that I still feel help alot at least 4 days out of the week. My insurance didn't cover it, so I go see him again yesterday, ready to tell him my current problems and ask if an injection would help. He immediately steered me toward getting off the pills, so I said how I usually do it on my own with Ultram (I guess I was hoping to impress upon him that it's not a problem for me to wean off WHEN I NO LONGER HAVE PAIN), but he latched onto that and asked if I wanted to do that. I just gave in/up! I can't explain myself to these doctors anymore, it just makes me so sick, physically, to listen to them, they don't care about me, and that hurts the most. I guess now, I will know how real my pain is, which is something I've wanted to know for a long time anyway, the doctors have all convinced me my pain is caused by being on pain meds for so long (even though I went on and off for quite a while before requiring them daily prior to surgury).

I really don't have a problem with the weaning, it's the lack of caring or even wanting to figure out what's going on, that really hurts. I thought a PM was supposed to help you get to the bottom of your pain, which is why I asked for the referral to begin with! Since then, I've been treated as though my NS quit ME, and didn't want to deal with my pain, when, even though they mentioned me tapering, they never told me I HAD to....

Sorry this is so long, I'm just so frustrated. I go see the NS tomorrow for the results of my CT/Myelo. Hopefully there is nothing there, then I can go back to my PCP and start over again.


  • Ack, I meant my PCP is the only one that listens to me!
  • This is understandably very frustrating. And I never fell for the "pain pills causing more pain" theory either. I too feel uncomfortable at times when speaking to a doctor, but I'm at ease with my surgeon because he's so friendly and easy to talk to. We even kid around a couple of times. I feel very fortunate to have him and that's why I'm entrusting him with my upcoming procedure.

    If you find yourself being interrupted, let the doctor know that you really need him to listen first. You should always have a chance to speak uninterrupted. Not only does it help you, it will also help your doctor figure things out. I hope things work out for you, and please let us know how your ct myelogram went. Take care
  • Why don't you mentally sit down and figure out two scenarios for tomorrow when you go to your NS to get the test results. One would be if they show a problem: what will you want to know, will it be necessary to treat, how will be it treated, etc. You might even write down what you would want to know.

    Second, if the tests reveal nothing, ask then what are the possible causes for your pain. Make it clear you cannot function the way you are and what does he suggest? Try to be a bit more forceful and make it clear that you need to know how to proceed.

    Which disk was operated on? Are your symptoms the same or different from before surgery? Were you painfree for awhile, and then the pain started?
  • Kat,

    I saw seven docs - two primary care's, one pain management, one ortho spine surgeon, and three neurosurgeons - and it took the third of those to finally figure out and fix things. What I learned:

    -Diagnosing back issues is truly an art, not a science; all the docs saw the same scans, yet all came up with different treatment schemes

    -Bring someone to every visit; at minimum, they help recall and interpret what the docs say. At maximum, I think the presence of someone else influences how some docs communicate

    -Bring written questions to every visit and politely insist that the doc go through all of them with you; the intimidation factor often leads us to think we're "taking up the doc's busy time" when they are there for US, not the other way around

    -Ask the doc to clarify or restate anything you don't understand

    -Do not be afraid to ask to be referred for another opinion; I did not do that when I was thinking I should, and it cost me a possibly unnecessary surgery

    Above all, remember that some surgeons, especially neurosurgeons, can be cold as your freezer. But, you want a great surgeon, not a friend. If you want warm and fuzzy, get a golden retriever.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,874
    I just read your post and havent read any of the responses. The topic says it all. It is such a common situation with so many people.
    Doctors and society have created this 'air' and 'Above the rest' image. This can make it so difficult to really have any meaningful discussion with doctors.
    They can be cruel, cold, intimating, and much more.
    While there are many doctors that have hearts of gold, here is where we have to figure how to deal with the others.
    For years, I could never really communicate with a doctor. Perhaps it was from my upbringing that we respected someone who had earned those degrees. I think it also comes from those doctor visits to our house with their little black bags.
    It was only after my wife started working in the medical field and working with so many doctors, did I take a different approach. She would always tell me, talk to them like you talk to anyone else and never let them try to talk down to you.
    So, after a while, I did that. I had to find an 'ice-breaker' that would allow me to do that. For me, it was talking about wines or computers. So, before we got into any medical discussion, I would open up with that information. Made a world of difference. I built about that and now, I have no problems with doctors. They are no different than any of us. And when one tries to talk down to me, tell me they are busy or wont give me the answers for the questions I have, I stop them in their tracks and will not let them go until I get what I came in for.
    Of course there is a total amount of mutual respect that is needed to make all of this work. I wont be an obstenant bully, but I wont let them dictate the terms either.
    I could go on and on about techniques, what to write down, having a pen/paper, etc. I would be glad to do that and if you want some of that info, I would be glad to provide that in a Message or just as a post here
    Kat, my parting words, you are just as an important person they any other doctor is.... Make sure that they treat you with the respect YOU DESERVE..
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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