<<< prev | next >>>

Handbook for Mortals : Talking With Your Doctor

Situations: "The social pleasantry"

Have you had this conversation with your doctor?

Doctor: How are you doing?

Patient: Pretty good, thanks.

Doctor: Good, good. We'll see what the tests today show. (Leaves)

Was the doctor insensitive to your need to talk or ask questions? Did you feel you were not assertive enough in demanding some of the doctor 's time? Did you think you were exchanging a social pleasantry while the doctor thought he was gathering clinical information? Or was nothing wrong with this exchange? Maybe all of the above, depending on your circumstances at the time.

If you needed to talk to your doctor about something important to you, then you probably felt slighted, hurt, even angry at the doctor's lack of concern for your needs. He should have known better. You were sick and obviously needed his attention. Of course you weren't "pretty good." That was a polite response, a prelude to real conversation. On the other hand, you might have blamed yourself for not speaking up and demanding that the doctor stay and listen to you or, at least, schedule a definite time to come back and talk with you. Both of these reactions are natural, but neither help you get what you really want: more time and consideration for something causing you distress. If that was the case, there are several ways to avoid both the feeling that your doctor is insensitive or that you are suddenly incapable of speaking up for yourself.

But maybe you see nothing wrong with the question, answer, or doctor 's response. You might have been in the hospital or office specifically for tests, and the greeting was meant to be social. You might have been feeling "pretty good" with no pressing needs to discuss. Or maybe you choose to discuss your medical problems with your doctor, but your feelings, fears, or other concerns with someone else. As long as your questions are being answered by someone knowledgeable about your condition and your plan of care (and your needs are being met) that is fine.

To learn more about the book "Handbook for Mortals" click here.