I had to let another doctor go last week. Maybe I finally got tired of knowing more about my medical condition than my doctor. Maybe I was stumped that someone who just finished their residency and a fellowship 3 years ago was not up with current research on my medical condition. Maybe I wanted to be a person rather than an item of medical interest. Or maybe I just bought the farm when I found out she had a policy of not ever writing notes regarding jury duty, about potential difficulties a patient might have in serving. Not ever, no reason. Not that she wouldn’t do one for me. She wouldn’t do one for anyone. A urologist for pete’s sake, someone whose clientele would consist of a large # of people who would have difficulty serving jury duty because of their frequent or urgent need to use the bathroom.
I think I realized then, after taking about a day to get over my shock at this response, that my initial gut feeling in my two visits with her (one each year) had been right on after all. She didn’t get it. At all. Not a clue about what life is like for someone who deals with a chronic bladder disease. Given that she likely doesn’t have one herself, I wouldn’t expect her to get it that way another person with a bladder problem would. But in my mind, if you have been in a healing profession for any amount of time, you learn what it is about your patients that is important to them, and what life is like for them.
I wonder, would I be more tolerant of doctors if I wasn’t in a medical profession myself? Granted, I work in a school setting, but speech language pathology is considered to be an allied health field. Would I not know that what makes someone good at what they do in the medical arts is a healthy mixture of medical knowledge, practical skill, and, well, compassion and a desire to know what their patients really need?
I could not do what I do as well as I do it if I didn’t listen to my patients and their families. Because what we learn in school about what matters most in the area of communication is not the same from person to person. And all the research in the world doesn’t tell me what I learn by seeing my students smile when we do something slightly outside the box to help them communicate with their world.
Some part of me wishes we could interview our medical providers the way we interview people for jobs. After all, this is a person who will have a huge part in our life, those of us with chronic illness. It is annoying, time consuming, and expensive to have to try person after person to find the right one. I wish I could just interview a few, and then pick. Instead, I spend a year, or two, or three (wow, 6 in Cincinnati, I lucked out with that uro right off the bat) trying out new urologists. It is getting old here in TX.
In lieu of interviewing, I went the reference route, which is not always an option with a condition like mine that is not terribly common. I went to the forums for one of the major Interstitial Cystitis organizations and found a person listed there who looks promising. A woman, urologist, who specializes in female urology. Extremely rare. I will see her in July, we shall see how it goes. I really hope this one works out. I hope she knows more than me about IC.
As to my note, and a story for another time, my Take Stock of your Doc doctor wrote me a note for jury duty. And in a twist of humor, she had been called to duty the same day as me.