Aviva, who authors the blog Sick Momma, is hosting PFAM (Patients For A Moment) Blog Carnival this coming Wednesday, November 10th. Her theme was to have people contribute their experiences, criteria or recommendations to those who are in search of a doctor. I know from my own experience that I enjoy looking for a doctor about as much as I like going car shopping, stirring peanut butter or listening to nails on a chalk board. Yet, it must be done and I’ve made my way through it. I also recognize that things change and, chances are, I will have to do it again…and again…and again. So, I might as well get something good out of the experience. Here’s my take on how to make this ongoing journey a little more enlightening.
What do I look for in a doctor? To answer the call in today’s theme, I reflected back on some of those memorable experiences when talking to my doctor of the moment felt more like dealing with a character from Sesame Street® . Or, in this situation, I think I’ll refer to it as, “ Sez Me ” Street.
You have Bert and Ernie
These are the doctor-intern team where listening them talk back and forth to each other makes you wonder which one is going to get that Rubber Duckie put where the sun don’t shine — first. They banter, speak each other’s language, drift onto tangents that completely go off the topic and treat me like one of the pigeons sitting on the window sill outside their window of knowledge.
You have Benny the Rabbit
“My name is Bennie, not Bunny!” The cantankerous doctor who gets all bent out of shape if you mispronounce a medication or mention something you’ve come across online that made you wonder if it could be associated with symptoms you’d been having lately. “It’s Ray-NODES, with a long “O” and not Ray-NODS.” Sheesh, I was only trying to be helpful.
Of course, there is Oscar, the Grouch
Do I really need to clarify this one? I mean, who HASN’T met this dude?
And then, there’s Elmo
…who spends too much time making light of my situation, symptoms, challenges, pain, fears and so on. I don’t care how much you giggle or animate your voice, talk about some other patient who did nothing but complain, or offer up clever come backs that you’ve bestowed on some other poor soul. Your levity without giving me something I can truly use won’t make me feel like dancing and I’m not going to tickle you with a smile to make you feel better. Right at this moment, it’s all about me, Bub, and my name isn’t Mrs. Noodle! I have a tendency to rely a bit too much on self-deprecating humor and I really don’t need you joining in, too.
Who could forget Big Bird?
As it is in the Wild Kingdom, most of the male birds get the beautiful plumage so they can dance around and get all the attention. Top that off with a bird who acts flighty, forgetful, or surprised by any new symptoms and that can really get my feathers ruffled quickly. Or maybe it is a doctor who is way too busy fluffing or puffing up and not really listening to what I’m saying. When I’ve finally hit my limit with these birds, I’ve been known to give them “The Bird” right back.
Usually my favorite character on the show, but not in this scenario, is The Count
The doctor who looks at the labs and counts “…1…2…3…ah,ah,ah” when reading off those stupid numbers that imply nothing is really wrong with me. This doctor assures me that what I’m feeling can’t be Lupus, because my blood work doesn’t back it up. When pushed, this doc will tell me to go in for more lab work to test things again, if that will make me “feel better.” What I wouldn’t give to suck his blood and mock him while I’m doing it.
Okay, so enough with the venting. As it is with the real Sesame Street® show, there is always something to learn no matter what the topic, character or situation you find yourself dealing with. What would be that kernel of truth that I can close this tirade here with in order to make everything sunny again?
In this neighborhood, where ‘Sez Me’ Street is located, there are plenty of opportunities to cooperate, negotiate, communicate and educate with a lot of different characters. We may not always get along. We learn new languages and concepts, while offered many chances to practice it all every day. We may not see eye-to-eye or feel like joining in on all the chaos.
However, the fundamental point in being a part of this neighborhood is that everyone, no matter who you are or what role you play, has a right to their feelings.
As a patient, I can get caught up in burying my feelings and needs in order to placate the doctor role or character. I need to better embrace my inner child who sees myself as important and believes that I have the right to say what I have to say. Remember that feeling when you were young and you discovered something SO wonderful or felt something SO awful that you couldn’t wait to share it with anyone within ear shot? That impulse — that very need to communicate — deserves to be nurtured within all of us. That is my personal kernel of truth that I want to contribute to this discussion today. When looking for and choosing the doctor I work with, I have to feel invited to communicate. Whether they openly ask me to or simply sit and listen to what I have to say, that door to share my experience HAS to be present. Otherwise, they just don’t belong on my team.
One of the first characters on the show is probably how I like to see myself. He is a voice of reason and wit trying to explain why something is important, even though those around him may not agree. He’s the one with the hysterical arm movements, flapping them about shouting when he gets overly excited. The one that many go to when things get confusing and, despite what challenges he may be facing, is still expected to be the strong one all the time. The one with a crucial need for organization and coordination, so that he feels things run smoothly. The one who recognizes that he is different, speaks of it openly and sings to himself when he is down. The one who may not always feel in the right place with those around him, but assures himself and those who sympathize, that it is okay to be different. I, of course, am referring to Kermit, the Frog.
It “…isn’t easy being green,” dealing with some unsavory characters — or to live with a chronic illness. Yet, it is an adventure worth taking, plenty of smiles and laughter to be shared and lots of friends to meet along the way. If you get stuck with the way things are going with your doctor, tune in to watch Sesame Street again, like I do. It’s a whole new experience when keeping this perspective, offers some great basic pointers in working with different characters (doctors)… and is still a lot of fun to watch, too.