- The receptionist at the front desk, who finds our chart quickly and gets us the appointment we need- note to self- a little chocolate never hurt anyone.
- The nurse, whose expertise needs to be valued as much as our doctor and who can be very helpful in not only calming our nerves but also in explaining what could otherwise be incomprehensible.
- The doctor, who with his many years of training and specialized knowledge does not need any greater explanation.
But the most important expert who is often overlooked and without whom we cannot get an accurate diagnosis or even a quick recovery is us. Yes, we are experts. And this vital fact is something that we can never afford to forget. It is very easy to walk into a doctor’s office and simply surrender to all that is before us. After all, if we knew what to do, we wouldn’t even be in the waiting room.
So, what in the world is our expertise as we sit in the office naked with simply a robe between us and our doctor? Our expertise is ourselves. We know our bodies and whether something just isn’t right. We may not be able to put our fingers on it but if something is off, we know it or if things feel just fine, we know that too. This is our expertise.
But with the many other experts who surround us when we walk into a doctor’s office, it’s easy to belittle what we know. Our ability to trust ourselves and accurately describe what we feel to our doctor is vital. And here’s another important key, if your doctor disagrees, don’t back down too easily.
I am not writing this to say that when it comes to medicine you know more than your doctor. This is completely not true. But when it comes to what you are feeling, you know better and until you are comfortable with your doctor’s diagnosis and prognosis, don’t give up. Your continued questioning can help your doctor look at your case in a new light, your accurate description of all that is bothering you whether related or not, can help your doctor uncover the mystery of what exactly isn’t working correctly. And here’s something that every good doctor will tell you, if you are not comfortable with how you are relating to your doctor or if you think that something can be looked at in a way that your doctor is not perceiving, get a second opinion or a third or fourth- as many as it takes.
So, next time you walk into your doctor’s office don’t walk in intimidated, overwhelmed and anxious. Walk into your doctor’s office with head held high, trusting yourself and armed with the knowledge and expertise of what you bring to the table- You.
Haleh is a speaker and author of Little Patient Big Doctor, profiled on CNN and other top media. She has taught for 20 years, practiced as an attorney at top national law firms, studied communication and group dynamics and created and lead programs for health education and advocacy.