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Being a Good Patient - Healing Myself


I am a new member with only two days or so under my belt but a long-time sufferer of the manifestations of DDD. I have lived without seeing a spine specialist for five years because they did not have much to offer me.A degenerating spine in which every lumbar and cerviical disc is involved is not all that treatable until something terrible happens.

The best thing I learned from previous doctors was the value of physical therapy. It is so easy to dismiss exercise when you are in pain and frightened of ending up in a wheelchair. Yet it gave me years of low-pain - not pain free- living. Pain was manageable. Very manageable and I learned how to behave so that I could get up the next day.

I adopted good self-talk (for people with degenerative problems):

"No, don 't dig that shrub out of the ground.". "No, your house does not have to be spotless." "No don't push through the pain; when it hurts, stop." "No, don't sit in front of the TV." "Yes, go exercise."

I have lived for many years with pain ebbing and flowing this way. Now I am in my 60's and, contrary to what I expected from my reading, the pain is much worse because the degeneration is much more advanced. More bone spurs, more radiculopathy, more nerve damage.

Here is the new question for me - how can I be an effective partner in my medical care when I must consult so many other people? How do I learn to trust doctors who don't agree with each other?

Example: My new spine specialist says in the near future the bone fragment in my spinal canal will have to be removed. My family doctor said, "You just jumped up on the examining table. You can't need surgery."

Of course, the spine specialist is looking right at an MRI and foretelling the future. I could see it,too. The family doctor did not have that slide show to consult.

Still, how can I be confident and educated without turning into a patient no one wants? (a big pain in the ***) What do doctors want in patients?

What is a good patient?

Does anyone else think about this? Does anyone have some wisdom here?

Sorry, not an easy question, I know.




  • I think that being a 'good patient' and being one that doctors dislike is all in the way that the patient presents their knowledge.
    I am pretty medically knowledgeable, not a degree but do my homework when it comes to anything that I have a medical problem with.
    I ask a ton of questions, and if it doesn't sound right, I ask for an explanation-maybe I misunderstood something or it wasn't explained well but I do ask for clarification.
    I listen, and research the pros and cons of the options presented, then make a list of other questions that may have come up .
    I advocate for myself but don't think that I am the doctor. I do make suggestions if I have reason to believe that there isn't all of the answer in the ones that I have recieved, and ask what they think about what I am suggesting.....
    Most doctors that I have interacted with, like a patient who knows what they are talking about, ask questions , and do some of the research themselves and then come back and ask educated questions about their condition and alternatives.
    What they don't like is patients who come in thinking they know better than the doctor, or they have self diagnosed based on things they read on the internet, and refuse to listen to the guidance provided.......
    As far as the differences in what your GP believes about surgery and what the surgeon has said, that is common. One of the reasons that patients need to see the right doctor for the right condition. GP's are great at your overall health concerns but when it comes to managing specific medical conditions, you need to see the right doctor for the right problem. Surgeons for surgery, endocrinologists for gland disorders, cardiologists for cardiac problems.
  • First, looks like a good boy/girl to me. :)

    I agree with Sandi to a large extent. One thing to add is that I always remember what my surgeon/doctor said the last time I saw him and ask questions about it or mention it I passing if need be so they always know I'm paying attention.

    I'm always honest and expect that in return...no riddles to solve, just give me the goods. Your spine doc is much more important at this time than your PCP and developing a relationship is key. Know the terms - research - as much as you can and write down questions to ask before going to see him. Mine have sometimes been on a napkin I had during lunch right before my appt.

    Know what's wrong, ask questions and let them see you're taking an active role in your care. I once had a new surgeon's PA use a laymans term for something, like facet swelling, and I said "hypertrophy" and she realized I knew what was what. It wasn't in an arrogant way, just so she knew that I know about my body and its problems (well, my spine at least).

    Don't worry, just do your homework. They'll learn soon enough that you're aware of what is what.

    Take care,
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  • badshepherdbbadshepherd Posts: 8
    edited 09/25/2013 - 6:35 AM
    Thank you for some good things to think about before my next appointment.

    Cathie, you are correct. The picture is of my good shepherd, Odin. My "badshepherd" really is not bad - just a rowdy, crazy, wildling shepherd pup. Her name is Keema and she is wild, wild, wild!

    (Not a) badshepherd
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