PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This article by Honore Lehtinen addresses healthcare providers from the patient’s perspective. According to Honore, she wrote it in 2021 after talking to friends about her experiences with healthcare providers. You and your friends are or have been health professionals and have been involved in health care in other ways, e.g. B. as a recipient of health care. —Jill Pepelnjak, staff writer
As patients, we understand that our healthcare providers have their own families, lives, interests and concerns, as well as need to meet the demands and demands of their jobs. We appreciate what they are doing to help us heal. We know that many healthcare workers don’t get the recognition and gratitude they deserve.
We are also aware of the limitations, such as B. the time you spend with your patients. They don’t always get the full picture or have enough time to hear what isn’t being said as well as what is being said. If you ask your patient, “What are the two or three most important things about you that you want to tell me?” The answers might surprise you and you could immediately figure out the direction of the best treatment and the best way to communicate with your patient.
Everyone is an individual. Handouts that only deal with the general effects of medication or symptoms of illness are only of limited use. When people don’t find answers in these handouts, we look to other sources, and some of those sources may be inaccurate. We prefer to ask our providers and expect them to be knowledgeable about the conditions they treat. When our vendors don’t know the answers, we’re happy when they say, “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out for you.”
Everyone has their own definition of the word “crisis”. What can be a big irritation for one person can be a crisis for another. A person who is upset about their health may appreciate being addressed calmly, gently, and slowly, as if they are in a crisis.
Not all crises involve suicidal tendencies, mass disasters, violence, and so on. Additionally, some immediate emotional responses may be due to sudden realizations, subconscious triggers, or effects of medication. These short-term things probably don’t need to be treated with more medication.
We’re not always raised to understand emotions or have the words to describe them. A health condition and medications change perceptions of both ourselves and the environment and people around us. We may know how we feel, but we don’t have the words to describe exactly what we’re going through. What sounds too strong, melodramatic, or inappropriate for a provider may be exactly what the patient is feeling, so please don’t argue or blow it away. Just accept it politely and accept the patient’s description as further guideline for treatment.
We express emotions differently. Some of us are more reserved. Some of us are more demonstrative. Emotional responses are unique to each person and depend on how they were raised, the feedback they received from others when expressing emotions, and how well they understand their own emotions. We can sense when providers are not comfortable with emotions. Sometimes we wonder if providers have their own reactions to difficult situations and project them onto the patient.
How something is presented to a patient is just as important as what is presented. The provider’s body language, facial expression, tone of voice, eye contact, and words convey everything to a patient. It is possible to be honest and compassionate. For example, you might be thinking about how you would like to experience something very serious and possibly emotionally upsetting. For many of us, changing health is a change we may not have been prepared for. There may be symptoms of an adjustment disorder or some type of acute stress response.
Some of us have had bad experiences with other providers. As a result, we are withholding information that the provider may need.
“Brain fog” is not an appropriate term for the effects of chemotherapy on the thought process. Think of it differently. For example, a drunk person is uninhibited – it’s like opening certain doors in the brain that should remain closed. The chemo brain is the opposite – doors that should be open are now closed (i.e., connections that help a person think, decide, and regulate emotions are now closed). Of course, this lack of rational thinking is also characteristic of drug and alcohol use.
Feeling the effects of brain chemo does not mean that the patient is now becoming frustrated or angry; Rather, it may be more of an inability to know what to do and how to motivate yourself. This is also reflected in crisis responses.
Inactivity is hard for some of us. We’re bombarded by the latest trending healthcare news about the importance of “staying active”. Some days this is very difficult and it can make us a little discouraged. Of course, this is because our brains aren’t getting the feedback that helps our serotonin and dopamine flow freely and at the rate we need them to. It can be helpful to think of the classic Vodou definition of “zombie”: a living person who is helpless, “empty” and controlled by something outside of them.
Not everyone responds the same to “help” resources like support groups and pain clinics. This is often because our experiences and feelings are minimized and not recognized. A provider does not have to agree with how a patient describes their experience. Psychotherapists are taught to “pick the person up from where they are”. This could be extremely valuable for all healthcare providers.
If a provider is concerned that it will allow a patient to express negative emotions, that means their patient is dealing with negative things, they needn’t worry. Sometimes we need to verbalize pain, anger, sadness and depression – because that naturally gives us control over these things. Being able to name something puts us in control, and when the person we’re expressing those things to validates our feelings, it gives us strength. Additionally, and just as importantly, having a provider validate our experience helps us heal. We appreciate being listened to. We don’t need to be reprimanded as if we were stray children – to be told, “Don’t go there!” and to be told, “There, there, it’s not so bad, dear.”
Forget the clichés! Yes, most of us know that research is usually examined in its entirety and that best practices apply to the majority of us. However, how much is a provider missing out on by not considering that little something extra in a person that could make the difference in treatment? And, for heaven’s sake, don’t assume that everyone with gray hair and wrinkles likes to be called “darling” or “sweetie”, is senile and doesn’t understand things like cryptocurrency, blockchains, digital stuff. This is no more true than all patients assume that all male doctors do not understand women’s concerns. (In far too many cases, however, this remains a real problem.)
Regardless of our age, many of us feel the tension, stress and mood in our healthcare team very strongly. Many of us, as we become more aware of the importance of good self-care, are developing a better intuitive “compass” that not only guides us through our own condition, but also sensitizes us to the feelings of others, to environmental influences on us, to medications, to food, to our own reactions. This means another major change for us.
Don’t be afraid to ask your patients if they would like a referral for therapy, for a support group, for reading material, for referrals, or for reliable websites. We don’t always get enough of these resources.
Patients express that they wish more doctors would be more compassionate about the emotional side of the illness and just take care of a person.
Please don’t worry that we will become needy and dependent on you. You are important in our life. However, for many of us, friends, family, love, acceptance, spirituality, and happiness are paramount.
Also remember that many of us are family caregivers. We have losses in our families, our friends, our pets, our livestock, our plants, and our homes.
Compassion is the key to healing.
Honore Lehtinen lives in Angora and is a board member of Wellness in the Woods, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving nationwide, peer-to-peer services for all, especially those with chemical addictions and mental health issues. For more information, visit www.mnwitw.org.