My doctor and I don't seem to work together well. We communicate very poorly and this is the most important medical care that I receive. Does anyone have suggestions on how to improve the relationship?
Hi Larry, thank you so much for your question and apologies for not responding earlier! I completely understand your concern. I agree it is very important to communicate well with your doctor / medical care team and it can be so frustrating when it doesn't happen naturally!
I had similar problems with my previous doctor, treating mental health problems (I know this is a little different, but still wanted to reach out as I can absolutely relate to your message). I remember leaving the building after an appointment and thinking, 'well, that wasn't really useful' or 'that didn't go according to plan'.
After a while I started to understand that ultimately, communicating well always depends on both parties (at least this is what I think). One thing that really helped me is being more honest and getting over my fear of embarrassing myself. I started to be much more talkative and ask questions actively. If I didn't understand what was being said (e.g. medical terms etc), I asked back politely, asking if he could simplify this and that for me. It helped massively and I felt so much more supported.
I also started to prepare for appointments, write a list of questions, concerns, thoughts I had on my mind. Then, I took notes during consultations too.
I know that my friend's mum who is living with breast cancer even records her appointments, so she can listen to them anytime at home with a much calmer mindset.
You might find useful having a look at these resources specifically as well:
I hope this helps a little. I'm sure others will be in touch soon with more advice and tips! Lou @LouiseJ or Rob @JerseyBob @RobertA, perhaps you have some to share? :)
Oops, I forgot to mention two things!
A cancer planner / journal might also help to keep track of appointments and note down questions etc. This one is super useful, with lots of features, including Appointment Trackers, Question Logs, Medication Logs etc:
Finally, we have a lovely oncology nurse @LizzyB73 on board with us who you can ask anytime should you have any questions at the following link:
I think everything that Blanka has written is spot on, and the resources listed are really helpful.
I wasn't sure if you meant your cancer doctor or a general practitioner, either way, my approach would be the same. I do feel that we can often feel intimidated by doctors simply because they are supposedly the experts in their field, I am not and so whatever they say I sometimes feel nervous about questioning or asking for clarification.
BUT, not anymore. Since my cancer diagnosis, I make sure I understand what is going on, by asking questions, as Blanka says, sometimes written down, so I don't forget anything. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to do this. A good doctor will always make time for you to ensure you have a good understanding and that you feel they have understood you.
Unfortunately I have had the recent experience of speaking with a GP who actually couldn't have given a monkey's about the situation I was discussing. I still had to refrain from showing my anger and push through to get the dr to help us. I sincerely hope your doctor is not like that.
Another possibility is to take someone with you to your appointments, who can support you. There is nothing wrong in doing that. Sometimes, especially with cancer patients, much of what a doctor says can go in one ear and out the other, or worse straight over the tops of our heads! Having another person with you who can take notes, or record the appointment can be very helpful.
I hope you find some of these suggestions useful, please keep in touch and I hope things begin to improve for you soon.
@Larry Fagan @Blanka_C @Sunshinedaff
Good evening Larry
Apologies for the delay in replying. I think that the replies from both Blanka and Lou are incredibly helpful and really good advice.
I have been very lucky as I have been with the same doctor for nearly thirty years now and he has steered me through the loss of my Mum, cancer and depression and I really feel for people who cannot communicate comfortably with their doctor for one reason or another.
We have a different system in Jersey inasmuch as we pay for a visit to our Doctor, between £50 - £70 a visit depending on what we need. It sounds like bad news, but we do at least get to see whichever doctor we want and it has worked well for me.
I would like to take the opportunity to say welcome to our friendly community and I hope you will keep in touch and let us know how you get on.
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