Be A Human, Not A Number
The Maze of Medicine
By Monica Radtke
Dealing with the medical community can be difficult and frustrating, particularly if you are a chronic pain patient. We can be unsure of what to do, unsure of where to go. There is no rulebook, but we do have the experience of others. I was diagnosed in 2007. In the time leading up to my diagnosis and since then I have learned much about how to navigate the choppy waters of the medical field. Here is my opportunity to share my unique patient experience with the hope that you can learn from my journey.
For over ten years I worked at a large medical facility in Minneapolis. During the time I gathered knowledge, and when the time came, I took full advantage of all that I learned. I worked in various customer service roles and found out what it is like to be on the receiving end of our calls and conversations. I know that treating those in the medical field well makes a big difference. I also know that at any time that you have to opportunity to learn anything about how any part of the medical field works, take it. Learn from receptionists, nurses, nurses aids, etc.
We have all felt like a number at times. We call a doctors’ office, a lab, or our insurance company and it is obvious that the person on the other end of the phone is detached. There are people in hospitals and offices that look a little dead behind the eyes. My experience working in a medical environment can give you some perspective about the real world in many medical environments. I know that I was often given many tasks to do at one time. While not everywhere, you may run into overworked, exhausted doctors and nurses. There are very hardworking, professional, smart people who are, simply, slammed.
It is not hard to take steps to guarantee that you are not just a number. There are ways to make sure that you get the best service. You are not just a patient; you are a customer.
- Mondays and Fridays are the busiest days.Early mornings are good times to call.
- Early mornings are good times to call.If you don’t get an answer or a med refill, don’t be afraid to call back
- If you don’t get an answer or a med refill, don’t be afraid to call back arrive early for tests, procedures, etc. There is often paperwork or prep work to be done.
- Arrive early for tests, procedures, etc. There is often paperwork or prep work to be done.
- Follow instructions. Any pre surgery or procedure tests are important.
- Understand that everyone in the room has a job to do. If you are in the ER, in the hospital, or similar, understand the role of the individuals that are there to help you.
- Kindness and cooperation bring the same in return.
Networking is important
When I was supporting my boyfriend as he dealt with his Epstein Barr/Chronic Fatigue diagnosis, I networked. Learning this skill will help you not only learn more about the illness you are facing, but it will also help you find more resources and places to turn when things go wrong.
The “go wrong” situation happened to us. My boyfriend’s doctor made an error that could have had grave consequences. The information I learned allowed me to see the red flags as well as to find new resources to help us. After all, it is hard enough to get some guys to go to the doctor; it is nice to have a backup ready and waiting!
Talk To Your Doctor
Not all doctors keep themselves educated on the most current research and information about illnesses like Fibromyalgia. You may run into a doctor, for example, that still believes that fibromyalgia is “all in your head”. A good rule of thumb is to have a consultation with a doctor before you agree to become a patient. Consults should not just be for the doctor to review YOU. You should be interviewing your doctor for compatibility as well.
Ask the doctor about his/her opinions about chronic pain and Fibromyalgia. Ask the doctor about potential treatment plans for Fibromyalgia. Bring your questions and make sure that she is willing to answer each question. If a physician does not have the time or patience to answer your questions she may not have the time to spend with you when you come in for an appointment.
Do not be afraid to ask the doctor about how they feel about you bringing in any research that you may find to have your questions answered. Doctors may or may not have chosen to continue their education; it does not mean they are not willing to with a little help from you.
Understanding your rights and arming yourself with information is the best ways to get the treatment you need and deserve. Adding additional skills will decrease your stress and increase the benefits of your treatment.
If you have tips you would like to add to these suggestions, let us know. I will be back soon with more tips to help you with your Fibromyalgia treatment.