Image cc: brightonshitgraf
Many people come out of GP appointments feeling confused, anxious, or irritated. (And GPs often feel the same). But most of us are fairly competent and reasonable individuals, and most GPs care deeply about their patients, so what can you do to get the most out of your appointment?
Remember that doctors are just average people. GPs are expected to know about everything, from heart attacks to painful sex to headaches, which means they can’t possibly be an expert in it all. They are not omniscient. And they will also have prejudices and flaws, same as all of us. And before you go in to see them they might have just had an ex-con storm into their room demanding prescriptions for the drugs they’re addicted to, or have had a whole appointment about a chest infection only for the patient to then whip their dick out when their back was turned and say could you also look at this please, or have just had a receptionist notify them that a patient had to be turned away because they had brought in a sandwich bag full of their own shit. Cut them a little slack.
Don’t fall into the ‘figure of authority’ trap. Numerous research demonstrates that we often become somewhat childlike and over obedient in the presence of people who have a position of authority. (Put on an official looking jacket and go and order people around and you’ll see). Consequently we tend to get nervous at the doctors because they have authority, and we’re opening up about a mental or physical problem making us all the more vulnerable. We tend to not communicate as effectively, and to go along with things that we don’t actually understand or agree with. And then afterwards feel annoyed that we weren’t properly understood. So expect to feel a little anxious but remind yourself there’s no need to be, don’t go along with everything for the sake of it, and consider bringing some short notes to remind yourself of the important things to tell or ask them.
Lastly, remember that our health is our own responsibility, and the Western model of medicine is far from perfect. Sometimes we go to GPs hoping for a drug that can cure the issue, not wanting to admit or be told that some lifestyle changes would be more appropriate. In these instances are we really going to them for healing, or are we just hoping for an enabler? We also may ignore problems until they become too much to handle; but a life spent unravelling the small things will go a long way in protecting us from the big things. When we learn to decipher the messages from smaller symptoms ourselves, we do not have to be so fearful of bigger problems or ‘mystery’ ailments, and we are less reliant on doctors.
Sounds spiritual. But is true.
Lots of us these days recognise that health problems need to be looked at holistically, there are psychological or lifestyle components to most problems, and Western medicine is often oriented towards fixing symptoms rather than dealing with underlying causes. The placebo effect can sometimes be as effective, or even more effective, than the actual drugs themselves, (without the side effects) which shows how much we still have to learn.
take home points:
- Expect your GP to be a flawed human, who happens to have a difficult job.
- Be confident about your own needs and intuitions, and look after your body.
- Don’t bring a sandwich bag full of your own shit in.
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