October 15, 2013

October 15, 2013
3 Ways to Get Your Doctor to Take Your Pain Seriously

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Tuesday and I hope you are having a beary safe and great week. It is another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

Unfortunately, people with HIV and especially older people living with HIV usually have to deal with some pain. But how do you get your doctor to take your pain seriously? Sometimes it can be hard to even accurately describe what you are feeling in your body especially to the degree that your health care provider can correctly understand.

Here are three communication tactics I try with my doctor when I'm the one being examined.

1. Speak up.

The authors of the recent study found that doctors were more likely to be aware of their patients' individual health beliefs when their patients "asked questions, expressed concerns, and stated their opinions." I might start a conversation by saying something like "let me make sure I understand correctly what you're recommending…" because I know when I hear these words from my own clients, it's a clue for me to step back and make sure that I understand the client's point of view. The aim is to be polite but persistent in making sure your doctor understands your personal preferences.

2. Don't be afraid to disagree.

If your doctor seems to be shrugging off your symptoms as "all in your head" or suggesting what seems to be an unreasonable course of action, make sure you fully explain why you disagree. Perhaps this pain feels different or lasts longer than the usual aches, or perhaps you can't comprehend how your doctor reached a particular diagnosis based on your medical history. Sometimes challenging your doctor can reveal mistakes. And doctors, like everyone else, make them from time to time.

3. Write out your questions in advance.

It's common to forget what you wanted to discuss while you're undergoing a quick exam. If possible, try to write out some questions before your appointment concerning your preferences for follow up and treatment. If you don't know what kinds of questions to ask or how to ask them, check out the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's website. The bottom line: While your doctor's knowledge of medicine may trump yours, you have a vaster knowledge of your own beliefs and preferences and satisfying care requires a knowledge of both. I can not stress the importance of having a check list of questions enough.

Hope these tips help you better communicate with your health care provider and you have a beary safe and great Tuesday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab