“Your warmth has more healing power upon the patient than all the medical tools in the world.”
― Abhijit Naskar, Time to Save Medicine
I had my “Welcome to Medicare” physical today.
This was my second physical with “my personal care provider.”
I have no doubts he is a good doctor. I am having doubts whether he is the right fit for me.
I think I’ve figured out why finding “the one” is so difficult for me. It is not unlike dating–in the dating world and in the seeking a physician world, both parties have expectations of what they expect from each other.
To clarify, I come from a long healthcare career. For most of my so-called adult life, my physicians were people I knew from working with them. They knew me not only as a fellow healthcare worker but as a person. Many knew my family–which was not always a plus. When I had an appointment with them, they listened to my concerns and knew I had some knowledge to contribute on how things progressed from there. We talked. We had eye contact. We questioned back and forth as we planned together.
Retirement changed that. We moved to a new state and entered the world of the self-insured. It has been a rough road with not many good advisers out there. I’ve learned what it’s like to be on the other side of healthcare. It is not a comfortable place to be nor is the forecast for the immediate future favorable.
Today I sat beside my physician, telling him about my latest symptoms while reviewing my list of questions, yearning for the eye contact confirming he actually heard my concerns. As I spoke, I watched, leaving little breaks in my dissertation, hoping that’d encourage some type of acknowledgement. Not the case. My silence seemed to give him the opportunity to progress through his forms more quickly. I wondered if he’d noticed I’d stopped talking. I don’t think so. My pauses did give me time to realized most of what I’d shared with him only brushed the surface of my real concerns. Sadly, this made me aware he was completely unaware of how uneasy I was entering this phase of my life. I’d filled out all the forms and answered all the questions honestly… I had not been depressed. My energy level was good. I did exercise. My home was safe. Okay–yes, I still had my daily glass or two of wine…As he checked off his boxes in his history taking form, I realized I was not going to get the level of empathetic care I’d hoped.
This was and is so sad to me.
At a time when we “seniors” most need a healthcare provider to care for us physically, mentally, and emotionally, most of those needs do not have a corresponding box on any of those review of systems pages.
Did I get good care today?
It’s all still pretty new to me. I think I received the level of care that is standard practice today. Does that make it good care? I guess that depends on how you define that good care.
I don’t think all the government and insurance companies rules and regulations have made anything better or safer. I guess that probably wasn’t the real reason anyway. What it did do was create a badly engineered money-making machine that continues to wobble on in spite of itself. No one knows how to fix it so we all, physician and patient, do our best to adapt in order to survive.
“THE MAXIMS OF MEDICINE
Before you examine the body of a patient,
Be patient to learn his story.
For once you learn his story,
You will also come to know
Before you diagnose any sickness,
Make sure there is no sickness in the mind or heart.
For the emotions in a man’s moon or sun,
Can point to the sickness in
Any one of his other parts.
Before you treat a man with a condition,
Know that not all cures can heal all people.
For the chemistry that works on one patient,
May not work for the next,
Because even medicine has its own
Before asserting a prognosis on any patient,
Always be objective and never subjective.
For telling a man that he will win the treasure of life,
But then later discovering that he will lose,
Will harm him more than by telling him
That he may lose,
But then he wins.
THE MAXIMS OF MEDICINE by Suzy Kassem”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem