Why the relationship you have with your doctor is so important

Recently i wrote a blog on Why we still need better health care and discussed a trip I made to the hospital in severe stomach pain with nausea and sweating. The local junior Doctor after reading my medical history decided that it was probably just anxiety, he didn’t ask me any questions or run any tests. But when I fought back he reminded me that he was the Doctor and I was not, so I reminded him, that I already have a Psychiatrist and this is not anxiety, but if he would like to call my Psychiatrist at 2am to debate my mental health with him, I could provide him with the number. It was at this point in the conversation that the junior doctor looked like he wanted to throw up and stormed off, within half an hour I was getting tests done and would you believe it, it wasn’t anxiety it was appengitis, a cousin and equally debilitating relative of appendicitis.Sadly this wasn’t the first time or the last, that I would have to strongly suggest a hospital doctor debate their diagnosis with one of my treating specialists.  And that brings to me a very important point close to my heart. The relationship I have with my Doctors and why I consider them some of the most important relationships I will ever have in my life.  If you have read my blog post 15 Life Lessons From Living With Chronic Illness you will have seen a ted talk by Dr Lissa Rankin asking the question,  Is there scientific proof we can heal ourselves?  In the video Dr Rankin discusses the power of belief and how belief held strongly enough, can produce such large amounts of oxytocin and other healing chemicals from the brain that is has been known to cause ‘spontaneous remission’ of illnesses including cancer. She uses the example of religious belief but also the faith one patient had in their doctor she states in trials, patients who have been given a placebo by their doctor and then told it will cure them have been known to go into full remission as a result of the faith they have in their doctors ability to cure them. She also discusses how the power of positive thinking has been known to greatly assist in the healing process. Oncologists actively encourage cancer patients to try and remain positive and happy, because it greatly increases their chance of survival.Now I’m not about to die of cancer and I’m not advocating drinking the kool-aid in the hope of a better life, but it does stress to me the importance of the faith and the trust I have in my treating phyicians. Now of course I am not about to put my faith blindly in anyone, just ask my psychiatrist and he will tell you – well probably not because of confidentiality and all that but if he could I know he would confidently tell you, Becky hates deceit and as such I put people through their paces before I trust them and that includes him. Now granted my Psychiatrist is fucking awesome and not just because his name is Katz and we all know how much I love my cats but because he genuinely knows his shit! For 2 years despite my then Rheumatologist sticking by the fibromyalgia diagnosis, my Psych kindly supported me while encouraging me to push back on my Rhuematolgist, My Psych knew me and he knew the pain and mobility issues were not in my head and were not simply psycho-somatic or stress-induced neuralgia and he repeatedly said “i think you have psoriatic arthritis” Finally my Rheumatologist snapped at me and said ” i think i know better than your psych and if he can’t fix your pain then i think you need to find a better one” It was that disrespect by my then Rheumatologist towards a Dr he knew nothing about that finally pushed me over the edge and without knowing where to find an alternative Rhem, i asked Dr Katz if he knew anybody. Dr Miller was a professor in Rheumatology and not just any Professor either she is one of the best in Australia. She did diagnose me with Psoriatic Arthritis, she put me on meds and sure enough, i am slowly recovering. Her comment about Dr Katz “he’s one of the best Doctors i have ever known, he might be a Psychiatrist but he could teach some Rheumatologists a thing or two” sadly she retired soon after but once again Dr Katz came to the rescue and referred me to his mothers Rheumatologist and Dr Franklyn is just as wonderful and skilled as Dr Miller ever was. Similarly, when my then Cardiologist diagnosed my tachycardia as a result of meds, Dr Katz knew better, he knew that my meds do not cause my kind of tachycardia and so once again he is referring me to a peer of his. When i was having menstrual issues and my local gyno suggested that ‘women change their minds all the time about wanting kids and contraception’ Dr Katz again referred me to one of his amazing peers who fixed my issues without any disrespect, or surgery. Whilst also respecting my decision to have surgery if symptoms continued. He understood my desire not to have children at my late age (35) or with my health concerns as does Dr Katz, never has he said to me as a psychiatrist “oh Becky I think you need to reevaluate that, or I think you’re overreacting, women needs kids” and don’t get me wrong, Dr Katz is no shrinking violet, he will put a patient in their place if they need it, he is direct and outspoken when necessary but in my case, he has only ever been respectful and understanding. Because of Dr Katz, I not only have a second chance at a reasonable life, and good mental health but i have an entire medical team of highly trained doctors fighting for me so I can have a better life and you better believe they would all go to bat for me if another doctor tried to undermine me or my quality of life. But It was Dr Katz who taught me to never accept anything less than the absolute best from my Doctors and if your Doctor isn’t good enough, find one who is, because as the L’Oreal ad says “you’re worth it”And while I might not ever be in a life or death situation where my faith in Dr Katz or any of my other specialists could save my life, I am in situations every day where my confidence in all my doctors is tested but it’s because of my proven faith in them that I power through life’s challenges confident that despite the pain and discomfort I will succeed because I know my Doctors do have my back and that kind of confident positive thinking is powerful.

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