I’m Sick and Scared: Take care of me Doc!

Thinking it was the doctor’s job and responsibility to take of me when I took ill with depression was the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life. This naivete and uneducated belief nearly cost me my life. But it didn’t, and here I am talking to you.

I’m not alone in this type of irrational thinking. Most of us believe doctors know what to do.Why is that? If we take a raw look at people who choose to become medical doctors, we would see they are just like us – perhaps with more education but sometimes, that’s as far as it goes.

Doctors, too, have arguments with spouses before leaving for work, some sit at the office daydreaming of fishing or skiing and don’t want to hear one… more… person …  they get stuck in traffic and curse their way into the parking lot like all of us do from time to time. Oh, you do that every day? Ever think it may have been a medical doctor in a hurry who cut you off in traffic because he didn’t want to get out of a warm cozy bed and jump into the shower? Sometimes, our doctors are simply in a bad mood.

Doctors cannot be human  like us because we want reassurance and comfort when we are sick, vulnerable, and needy. To sustain hope and irrational beliefs that doctors are not like us, we need to believe irrational things about normal, human behavior. What we do is place doctors in a category that doesn’t exist – that of non-person – all knowing – The Healer.

Take a moment and reflect on the numerous doctors and nurses that passed through your life. Got those faces in your mind? OK, go back further. How about the pediatrician, if you are fortunate to have had health care when a child. That person is usually our first encounter with medical care, doctor’s offices, hospitals, medication, and needles – oh my!

My pediatrician was a blast. He was a plump, middle-aged white man who was fun to be around. He traveled to Africa with a big gun, rode jeeps on safaris, and brought back treasures that he scattered throughout his office. He often sat on an elephant foot made into a stool (I know, bad, bad) because traveling through Africa brought him excitement and pleasure and undoubtedly got him through many a rough Monday morning. Photographs on the walls and pictures tucked randomly under the glass-top of his desk captured his adventures and captivated my imagination.

I learned to trust doctors at an early age and did not develop a healthy skepticism or the knowledge that I was in charge. I was not afraid of “white coats” worn by nurses and doctors. Those white-coated men and women were interesting, exciting, and wanted help me feel better.

Here I am decades and decades older and yes, wiser, though it took the threat of dying to bring me to this point. I’m wiser and educated after my encounter with mental health care doctors and nurses whom I should not have trusted blindly. My childhood experiences with medical care was positive, why would I think mental health treatment would be anything but helpful?

I was almost dead wrong.

Here’s an example of what I experienced recently:  I went to a doctor for a follow-up appointment. The only way that doctor could have been more disinterested in me as a person, and more careless with me as a patient, is to have not shown up at all. Her behavior was a total reversal of what I experienced months earlier. So different was her manner and attitude, that I went home and looked through my files (yes, I have files on my doctors and you should too) to make sure she was the same person I saw previously. I was sure I mistook her for someone else, but I didn’t. Her behavior was deplorable. I left the office, disregarded her medical advise, went home, called her boss and made a complaint, then promptly fired her from my medical team.

This particular doctor, a woman just like me, no longer fit in the health care team I painstakingly crafted over many years; so I fired her.

That, my friends, is being proactive about my health care. I am my doctor’s employer. I am not a needy patient blindly trusting a Doc to take care of me! I now oversee my own health care and take responsibility for those I hire to be on my team.

I hope you do too.

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5 Comments

  1. the boss

     /  05/30/2012

    Eeeeeeyyyyooooooorrrrrrrrrrr Fired!

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  2. K

     /  01/28/2012

    Good for you! Sorry the experience with the doctor was a bad one.

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  3. Anonymous

     /  01/27/2012

    YES Jeanette Bartha!!!! I’ve been saying this for YEARS after I went through the same ordeal for 9 years! The consumer is the boss! Speak up! Do not be afraid! And if the person is a quack, disrespectful and clearly doesn’t know what they are talking about, move on! And if you’re not sure, there is no harm in getting a second, third and fourth opinion! No person or professional knows more about someone then the individual seeking help in the first place! Thank you for posting this.

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