I am sure you are all familiar with “knowledge is power”. It is a well-worn adage thrown around as part of valedictorian speeches & candidate statements during campaign season. Commuters have been enlightened by the phrase through bumper stickers for ages.
We expect professionals to be knowledgeable in their fields. Heck we expect them to be downright geniuses at their chosen profession. This is especially true for our medical providers.
Thankfully, most of the medical professionals I have met are very knowledgeable. They have a very good grasp of issues related to strokes & their treatment.
Knowledge is gained through education & experience. Keeping up to date with the latest information, research & constant study helps expand knowledge in their chosen field.
But just because doctors know what they are treating, does that mean they understand their patients?
Knowing how medications work, how our bodies are supposed to work and how those meds affect our body, are great qualifications, but for me it isn’t enough.
As knowledgeable as my doctors and therapists are, I certainly would be appreciative if they also understand me as a person. Understanding is acquired on a deeper, psychological and personal level. I would like to be treated beyond being just a diagnosis and medical record number. I want this because if someone understands who I am and what my goals are, we could together forge clearer path to reaching that goal.
I met with a new physical therapist recently. As we enter her office, before I even sat down her first words to me were “You know, it has been 3 years, you should not expect too much progress right?” I slowly sat down, took a deep breath and worked on not crying my eyes out. I told her “ I will run again”. To which she replied “you could always try the paralympics”. Her words hurt and hit me hard. Not that paralympics is a bad thing, but up until that moment the thought of being a paralympian has never crossed my mind. I was and is still convinced that I will regain my “normal” running legs. I wish she had taken the time to speak to me first, get to know who I am and talk to me about my goals before she abruptly told me about the paralympics. It would also have appreciated a little more information about the paralympics before she sprung it on me.
The psychologist I saw pretty much said the same thing. She gave me the “you’ve plateaued” speech. I made an appointment with this psychologist because I wanted to talk about my frustrations and anxieties about my recovery. The first thing I told her was “I don’t want anymore meds.” She went through her list of questions, I opened up a bit. Then she says “I’m going to set up an appointment with one of our psychiatrist, he can talk to you about maybe adding more medications or increasing your dose. I met with her wanting to have someone i could objectively speak to regarding my fears, anxieties & frustrations about my recovery. I did not want someone who will medicate me to numbness. She continued to insist on medications. I did not make a return appointment.
Hospital staff & medical professionals are short on time. They are under pressure to get patients in & out of the clinic in order to serve more people. But taking a few minutes to ask questions, looking beyond a medical record would mean so much to the patient who you will see on a regular basis. Be a person we can trust to not judge our deficiencies and dismiss our goals. Be one who is willing to help us reach those goals. If the goals are unrealistic, please meet us in the middle and help us to get there. Stroke survivors fight daily to overcome our deficits. Although, we have support from our family and friends It really helps to have our medical professionals understand us so that all of our bases are covered. Healing and recovery goes on much smoothly if we are well supported.
What would you want your doctors or therapists to understand about you?
Do you feel that you are able to talk to your medical team and express your needs & goals?
P.S I have been seeing the same PT, we’ve had a couple of sessions since that fateful first meeting. I believe I have shown her what I am capable of achieving. Her & I are now working hard to get me back to running!