Do you discuss with your doctor?

By Penelope A. Domogo, MD

“ Even before going to the doctor or nurse or midwife, I suggest that you keep in mind what you are going to ask and also be prepared to tell the doctor a lot about yourself. ”

There are times when I meet an acquaintance or friend anywhere and would ask me about some medicine they are taking. Knowing that I am a doctor somehow triggers them to ask questions about effects, efficacy, side effects, when to take them, etc. I tell them “Why didn’t you ask that from your doctor?”. Truly, if you are the patient, you should discuss fully your ailment, the medicines and procedures with your doctors. (Not only doctors but nurses and midwives and laboratory people and whoever is giving you the service.) Well, if the patient is unconscious or a child, the parents or caregivers should be discussing all these with the doctor. Take note, doctors only help people get well. It is our own bodies that will do the healing process. And before proceeding, I would like to emphasize that this healing power within our bodies is natural, meaning it is built-in in every person. Repeat, every person has this natural healing power. That’s awesome. And how can that be? Only our Creator can do it. He surely truly wanted us to be well that when He designed the human body and that of animals and plants, He also gave that immense power to recuperate, recover, heal and be well again. I hope we all believe in this loving Creator and trust Him that He really loves us.
Back to our topic – talking with your doctor. Many times, we, doctors, are in a hurry to send off clients/patients especially if we see a long line of patients waiting. So if you don’t ask any question, we assume you understood what we instructed and we understood each other. Usually, when a patient enters the doctor’s clinic, we look at your chart (forgive us if we forget to greet you), ask some questions, place the stethoscope in your front and back chest. The stethoscope (stet) in front of your chest is to listen to your heart and the stet at the back is to listen to your breath sounds so when the stet is at your back we say “anges” (inhale) so we could hear the breath sounds better. We normally don’t explain these procedures thus one patient told me “Yaket adim abes ideppel asna likod ko” (“Why don’t you also press that here?” pointing at her lower back which was painful and which is why she came to the clinic). At least she was courageous enough to tell me that. Many times patients just keep mum at the doctor’s clinic or hospital and then ask questions when they are out.
After we consult you, we give you a piece of paper – the prescription- which contains the name of the medicine and how to take it. Sometimes our handwriting can only be read by the doctor’s assistant so before you leave the clinic or hospital, make sure you can read the handwriting correctly. Don’t assume it is correct – you have to check with your doctor that you mean the same medicine. You can write the name of the medicine yourself below the doctor’s handwriting. We will not be offended. There have been horror stories of wrong medicines being issued at the pharmacy because the salesclerk did not read the prescription correctly. We don’t like that, do we?
Another thing I would like to mention is that even if we are all doctors, we have different opinions and if I didn’t see the patient, I wouldn’t be able to help much. And about medicines, if I didn’t prescribe it, I may not know it. There are so many brand names and families of medicines (similar medicines but under different generic names) nowadays that it’s impossible to memorize each one. And I only prescribe western medicines occasionally so I don’t know the new ones. Sometimes patients will just even say “it’s white medicine”. With the many many medicines available nowadays, it is important for the patient to memorize his or her medicines or list them including how often it is to be taken and other instructions. For those on maintenance medicines, the prescription should be always with the patient. Keep the wrappers also.
Even before going to the doctor or nurse or midwife, I suggest that you keep in mind what you are going to ask and also be prepared to tell the doctor a lot about yourself. It is even better to write your questions so you won’t forget. Whatever complaints you are going to bring to the doctor, you should be able to tell your doctor since when did you feel it, what time of the day or night, are there other symptoms, what are the aggravating factors. It’s okay to tell us if you have a problem with your spouse because it could be an aggravating factor to your ailment. Be assured that all you tell us is confidential. Really, we can help you more if you give more information. Tell us if you have taken medicines before and what are these and other information. If your doctor does not ask because s/he is in a hurry, you can volunteer the information. In my experience and as shown by research, more information given to the doctor leads to better diagnosis of the problem and more appropriate treatment. I believe that the consultation with the doctor is a two-way or even three-way process (if the patient has a companion). You consult the doctor about your problem and you listen to what s/he advices and prescribes. But what s/he will prescribe will be guided by the discussion that goes on between you and your doctor so it is best that you tell as much as you can.
If you are not satisfied with how you are treated, seek consultation from another one. You can also consult non-doctors. The gift of healing is all around. For after all, it is your self that you want to be well and your money and time that you are spending.
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“Do not abandon wisdom, and she will protect you; love her and she will keep you safe.” Proverbs 4:6

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