Sunday, 27 January 2013

8. Taking responsibility

Firstly I'd like to thank everyone who is reading the blog. Through the wonders of the analytical tools provided by Google I can see that so far I have approx. 25 regular readers, some of whom are probably my family and friends and others who are further afield (one nice lady contacted me from Texas, USA to wish me well for the surgery). I'd love to hear any suggestions/comments about the content so please do get in touch via the Contact Dave page. OK, housekeeping aside I'll get onto today's exciting topic  - taking responsibility.

Who cares?

In this context of medical problems, 'care' is expected from two different groups of people. In management speak these would probably be known as 'stakeholders':
  • Those who have an emotional stake holding in my (one's) illness i.e. family and friends. They care because they want to protect me (one). 
  • Those who are stakeholders because it is their job i.e. the medical profession. They have a 'care of duty'.
Why am I saying this? Well, I have to be conscious of this distinction in the definition of 'care'. More specifically, in the same way that I cannot expect 'medical care' from family and friends, I cannot expect the medical profession to 'care' like my family and friends do.

"Dave, where are you going with this?", I hear you asking.

How to get a medic to really 'care'

Think back to your school days; the teacher always favoured those who showed an interest in learning. OK they had a care of duty for all pupils, even trouble-makers like me, but they seemed to have an emotional strand to their caring for the aforementioned (we called these pupils 'swots' or 'suck-ups').

Well medics and teachers are alike in this respect. If doctors were machines, they'd invest an equal amount of effort in treating every patient; but doctors are not machines. Showing that you are really interested in battling/defeating/managing your illness is the most important thing you can convey to your consultant. Couple this with being polite and respectful to them and you will establish your position as one of their more favourable patients. An emotional (or at least pseudo-emotional) attachment can develop between you and the doc; they will really want to see you get better, and this maximises your chances of getting the best possible 'care'. So push your pride aside and become a swot.

My tips for getting the best out of your medics when you have a chronic illness (most also apply to short term problems too):

  • Never forget that you need your medics. They hold the keys to a vast collection of resources.
  • Always be polite and respectful to your medics. I find that thanking them for their time at the start and end of each appointment goes a long way to achieving this.
  • Remember that (in all likelihood) your doctor doesn't suffer from your illness. Only you know what it is like living with your condition and you cannot expect the doctor, however well trained and experienced, to fully understand what it's like. You can only hope to convey things to them as best you can, and on that note...
  • Keep a detailed diary of your symptoms. If you do then you will be 'top-of-the-class' since not many people do, but your doc will appreciate it. This can be anything from writing down a few words each day to, in my case, recording lots of data about my bowel movements and medication doses. You will forget what has happened since your last consultation and keeping a log is the only way to track the facts. If you don't then you will rely on your opinion of how you've been keeping and depending on your personality, you will either forget the really bad times (optimist) or dwell on them (pessimist). Your doctor needs facts, not opinions.
  • Last but not least, try to learn about your condition. Do some research and gain a better understanding of what you are dealing with. Understand what treatment strategies are available and try to anticipate what might happen in future. Not only will your doc appreciate this but you will be better prepared for any eventualities.

Although the above points may look like you're pandering to the medic's wants, they are really geared towards taking responsibility for your condition. You will empower yourself to face it head-on. You will be able to have meaningful discussions with your consultant and, more importantly, you'll be better placed to think about how you feel about how your treatment is going. Don't just sit back and expect someone else, no matter how well trained they may be, to take charge of your body; it's not their job. Yes, they need to provide you with their advice but ultimately you will have to make decisions, and the more responsibility you take, the more empowered you'll be to take them.

"You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you." - Brian Tracy

1 comment:

  1. Dave, my pulse is racing already just watching the countdown clock! Good luck for the pre-op period. Pauline


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