Actually, sometimes patient knows best.
Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician and a writer. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Currently, he operates his website for those affected by cancer, 2surviveonline.com and drinks a ridiculous amount of coffee per day.
Have you ever talked, err, tried to talk to someone who only interrupted you to finish your statement for you? You know, those people who interject their thoughts and perspective in place of the point you are trying to make? I mean, they aren’t bad people, but they can be annoying as heck. They don’t actively listen. They make assumptions based on their past experiences, and they simply won’t let you finish saying what you have to say. This makes it virtually impossible to convey your message and your point of view. How frustrating, right?
The consequences of this type of conversation hijacking can simply be irritating when talking about football, the news, your weird neighbor, etc. However, when it comes to your health while you are talking to your doctor and medical staff, this type of communication, or lack of, can lead to all sorts of serious issues.
I’m not at all getting down on those in the medical profession, well, maybe a little, but my friends, please actively listen to what your patients have to say. We aren’t all the same. Let us finish. We know a good bit about ourselves.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” - Epictetus
Most of my doctors and nurses have been great. I’m sure most everyone’s have been great. Most of mine have listened to every word I’ve had to say (which can be many), and then asked questions to clarify. However, on a few occasions, I’ve ended up getting medical treatment that I simply didn’t need or skipping medical treatment that I really did need. All because nobody listened as they should have. Here are a few examples:
In 1998, I told my nurse I thought I was having a reaction to something that was given to me in the clinic. The nurse said, “nah.” She was right though, because it wasn’t just a reaction, it was me going into anaphylactic shock.
In early 2000, I was going to be treated for nausea. I was certain the drug the nurse was about to give me was one that I was allergic to, but, she insisted I wouldn’t have a problem. She was right. I didn’t have a problem, until I went batty and removed my own IV.
In 2012, I went to the ER and told doctors I felt like I had myocarditis again. That’s a feeling you definitely don’t forget. After several tests, they assured me it was just a pulled pec muscle. I insisted that this was not a pulled pec muscle. Two hours later, after vomiting, a fever surge and swelling in my legs, I was admitted to the hospital and put in ICU. I remained in the hospital for weeks.
I could go on and on, and so could many other people who have had experiences just like mine. I could talk about nurses missing my veins repeatedly because they didn’t simply listen to me on where my “good” veins were located. – Or that time when I told the doctor that I thought that I had a blood clot in my arm. He insisted I did not have a blood clot, but finally got me an ultrasound to, “put my mind at ease,” – about the blood clot that I had in my arm. (I should have billed that guy.)
It’s kind of simple. As patients, we all have our different stories. We are all unique. Most of us aren’t doctors, but we do have a good bit of knowledge about our bodies. Most importantly, we aren’t all textbook cases. We know you medical folks have spent lots of time reading books, looking at body parts, handling bodily fluids, okay I’ll stop. We have a tremendous amount of respect for you all. However, I’m going to really need you all to hear me out – so you don’t end up missing something much bigger than my vein.