Note To Doctors: It’s Time For An Attitude Adjustment

[Author’s Note] I need to begin with two disclaimers.

First, I freely admit that I am not a big fan of the conventional medical system. In fact, I have a fairly significant charge around it. And I recognize that, from a Law of Attraction perspective, as long as I continue to have that charge, I will continue to attract examples of why I believe the system is fatally flawed.

And second, I do recognize that there are many positive examples and shining lights in the field: doctors who have broken the mold and stepped out of the Standard Operating Procedures. To all of you who are out there, you have my deepest appreciation and I ask that you forgive me for lumping you in with the rest of the crew!

[End author’s note]

Ok. I admit it. I’m a bit irritated at the moment. I’ve settle down a bit since I wrote the first draft of this article last week.

On Wednesday, my wife and I took Ella to her first visit with one of the doctor’s who comes into the clinic where she receives physical and occupational therapy for her hemiparesis.

We didn’t get off to a great start when we were told that the doctor was running about 40-minutes behind schedule. That type of delay, standard operating procedure for far too many doctors, immediately sets a tone of disrespect and creates a hierarchy of power.

Once we (mostly I!) got over the initial frustration, we made the best of the time, reading with Ella and catching up on some family business.

When we were finally called into the exam room everything seemed fine at first. The doctor was friendly and playful with Ella. The other practitioners in the room – a nurse, Ella’s occupational therapist, and the clinic’s head therapist – were extremely friendly and helpful and all seemed to be going well.

But then, somewhere in the process, the doctor got on a roll. He began spewing out terminology that would have been over the heads of most normal parents. Fortunately, we’re not “normal” My wife is a naturopathic doctor and I am pretty obsessive about researching the latest information about hemiparesis, so the terminology did not phase us. But it was clearly, if unconsciously, meant to disempower us and to put him into a position of superiority.

His monologue continued, seemingly without a break for a breath. The more he talked, the more I felt placed in a box based on his experience and perceptions.

He told us that, as parents, we would naturally pamper Ella and cater to her disability (his word, not ours!).

He told us that as Ella grew up the other kids in school would make fun of her (he explained that kids were mean and that he had been the “fat boy” in school. Personal issues perhaps?).

Somewhere in his spewing he managed to point out that the most important thing was not whether Ella will ever have full use of her left hand, but rather whether who she really is shines through. If he had stopped talking long enough to really look at Ella, he would have seen her light shining out like a beacon. But he didn’t stop. He kept on going.

He told us that Ella would have problems doing this and that.

He told us that Ella would have this physical thing happen and that happen and other stuff happen. All based on his experience and perceptions.

He never stopped to find out who we are and how we are addressing this situation. He never paused to ask us if we had questions. He never opened his eyes to see any of us as unique individuals rather than as cookies cut out of the mold he has been “treating” for all of his many years.

And finally, my patience broke. I have a certain degree of tolerance for people putting me in a box. But I’m not going to let a doctor put my daughter into a box because his experience tells him that she is destined for a certain outcome.

So I stopped him. And I let him know that I didn’t appreciate him putting us into his nice, neat little box. I told him that he didn’t know us, and he hadn’t taken the time to find out about us. I let him know that he had been talking TO us not WITH us.

Based on his reaction I would guess this was probably the first time that anyone has challenged him in this way. The only way to describe his reaction is to say that he started pouting.

He cut me off and walked over to Ella to complete her examination and when he was done he walked out of the room without another word to us.

Does your doctor put you into a box or are you really seen for who you are? Are you treated like a cookie cut out of a mold or is your uniqueness recognizes? Do you feel empowered or disempowered by the contacts you have with the medical profession?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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      17 Responses to “Note To Doctors: It’s Time For An Attitude Adjustment”

      1. Paul on October 8th, 2007 2:01 pm

        I have multiple physical issues. Each time I speak with a doctor, they speak AT me. They are folks too. But. I have a very hard time not………… Thanks for the LOA delay factor.
        Now on to my next $100 million. πŸ™‚

      2. Alex Shalman on October 8th, 2007 5:15 pm

        Ed, that was a sucky situation that your family was in. I’m sorry you had to experience that. I think you made him cry… =(

        And the lesson is…. Doctors, please be open minded and recognize us as individuals!

      3. Jesse on October 8th, 2007 7:28 pm

        Oooh, yeah, I’ve had that experience (most often with military doctors – so glad I’m away from that!).

        But I’ve also had the experience of having doctors that REALLY listens to you (though being the only good doctor in the small town we were in, my first good one was often running a little behind) and check up on you to make sure you are doing well.

        The difference? The bad ones were ALL Medical Doctors, and the good ones were both Osteopathic Doctors. I’ve found that, when given the choice, the Osteopathic Doctors I’ve seen are more apt to listen and figure out why you’ve got the symptoms rather than just diagnosing another pill.

        Now, that’s not to say that all MDs are bad and all ODs are good….I’m sure, like anything else, there’s good and bad on both sides. But it is the nature of Osteopathy to treat the WHOLE patient – whether that means popping the neck into alignment when one comes in for migranes (my mother, who was THEN told to also chill on her sugar usage!), or trying to identify why a child is coming in every year for bronchitis while giving a treatment when no other suggestion works (like Amoxicillin).

        I’m sorry that you had that experience. My suggestion (aside from telling you to do exactly what you did) is that you might check and see if you can’t see an Osteopathic Doctor, preferably one with children of his own.

      4. Theresa on October 9th, 2007 8:41 am

        Visiting your blog is always a grand experience for me, so first thank you!

        AND you hit an issue that drives me right up the wall…! Doctors! There is a very good reason, I believe, that while most professions “graduate,” the medical profession is always “practicing!”

        In my numerous decades on the planet, I can count on one hand (and use less than the five fingers) medical professionals that I was glad to know (including one dentist).

        The current one I’m seeing is only for getting my prescription filled. At first I thought he was going to be one of the good ones, until I realized I was angry while driving home! He talked and talked, but I realized he NEVER HEARD ME. I thought he had, but really he did not.

        So… out money and out the hope of finding a decent doctor….

        You may not have made a friend that day, but I believe you were the right person in the right place at the right time making the right remarks.

        Who knows… maybe the family coming in after you reaped the benefits!

        Hooray for you and your family! Keep up the good works πŸ™‚

      5. Dan and Jennifer on October 9th, 2007 4:34 am

        Our medical professionals are great when dealing with major accidents or life threatening injuries. But on a long term consistent basis, there’s a lot left to be desired.

        Prime example, it’s almost impossible to find any medicine that cures anything, it’s all pills that you take for life – a maintenance plan, or a “subscription service” as some may realize if you’ve ever had a subscription business before.

        Sure we all have our biases and those biases are of course reflected back at us.

        Still, the level of establishment arrogance in the medical business is astonishing, especially since it’s so darn unfounded! The medical industry (as most of us really) has a lot of growing up to do, and losing that arrogance would be a great first step to enable growth.

        The human body is an amazing machine, but it’s still a machine. And not to insult anyone, but your doctor is a glorified mechanic for the human body. But unlike your auto mechanic who fixes your car in a couple of days max, your doctor guesses at just about everything.

        That’s just where we are as a society today, it’ll improve soon hopefully.

      6. Rick Cockrum on October 9th, 2007 7:56 am

        I have to respectfully disagree with you, Dan and Jennifer. The body isn’t a machine. It has machine like aspects, but it is also a part of a whole person. Part of the problem is that doctors seem to be taught that bodies are machines, and so see themselves as mechanics trying to treat malfunction, rather than healers working with a person. As Jesse notes, this seems to be more common with allopaths.

        This does work great for structural problems. For example, I shattered my elbow. The orthopedist I say did a terrific job reassembling it and returning the use of my arms. For systemic problems, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, it’s an obvious failure.

      7. Edward Mills on October 9th, 2007 8:22 am

        Dan and Rick I agree with both of you. I believe the body is a perfect example of BOTH/AND. It is an incredible machine, and in many situations can be treated as such. But it is, at the same time, so intricately and intimately interconnected with our thoughts, feelings, and essential nature, that there are many times when it must be treated as one piece in a larger puzzle. And that, in my opinion, is what is missing in most conventional care settings.

      8. Edward Mills on October 9th, 2007 8:27 am

        Jesse. I too have had more positive experiences with alternative practitioners. My wife is an ND and we have found a truly amazing holistic pediatrician for Ella who is also a classically trained homeopath. However, in this case, we are limited to just three possible MDs who visit the clinic.

      9. Steve on October 9th, 2007 8:39 am

        Hi Edward,

        Not sure what to think of your story. At first I thought, well I got my two cents that I would like to add too!

        Then I realized I would be feeding the ‘complaining fire’.

        Instead I’ll share my insight about a conflict I had with a Master Mind partner of mine. My Master Mind friend was out of integrity. He would show up later on some of our calls and this particular time I got annoyed. I was making him wrong for being late on the call.

        He only said one thing to me, ‘Whatever you’re complaining about it about YOU, not me’, which pretty much says it all. I got even more pissed after he said that but at least I started to reflect on myself.

        I realized that I had been out of integrity in a few key areas of my own life which is why I was so annoyed. It was my own lack of integrity that was causing the flames to fire!

        If you’re interested in reading more on Integrity, check out my post, ‘Your Word is Law – Part 1’.

        http://www.stephenmartile.com/?p=51

        Stephen Martile
        Personal Development Made Simple

      10. Jennifer on October 9th, 2007 10:35 am

        Nice post. I can understand why you wrote it and came back to it later! I consciously have searched out doctors who listen. For the most part, I visit my Ayurvedic doctor unless it’s a bigger problem, and thank god my health is quite good to avoid that! But, even my allopathic doctor, she is quite good. She actually asks me a lot of questions and provides me a lot of information about stuff. I’d probably be like Elaine from Seinfeld in that I don’t always take her recommendations and may become a ‘difficult patient’! Overall, her recommendations are very practical. Also, as a social worker, even in my field I had to say ‘social work lingo’ to clients. Whenever I heard myself start talking in alphabet soup or saying all kinds of weird ‘professional’ terms I’d tell by picking up on facial cues of the clients and I’d come up with more relaxed ways of explaining things. Doctors and professionals all have their own lingo, and whether they talk to us lay folk to show superiority or because they are just used to talking like that all day- we don’t know. I know, for instance, in social work, I could talk in quite relaxed terms with the client, alone, but if my boss was there, I was more careful to use the professional terms! But, I’d always back it up with my own terms. Sometimes, I have also found that certian people (clients, patients, etc.) want to hear social workers, doctors, and other professionals say these terms or they don’t think they are ‘for real’. I think alot of it depends on the patient/client and professional relationship. However, I agree systems (health care, mental health care) need revamping! Thanks for sharing!

      11. Annie on October 12th, 2007 9:15 am

        I used to work for the Royal National Institute for the Blind, in the library about 10 years ago. We were routinely visited by people looking for the information on their condition that their Optometrist should have given them…

        Our favourite joke was this:

        Q: What’s the different between God and a Consultant Optometrist?
        A: God doesn’t think he’s a Consultant Optometrist…

        It was always wonderful to empower people with the information that they had been denied via normal routes – people finding out that they *weren’t* going to go blind as they’d feared, or that there was an alternative treatment…

        In a spectacular example of Karma, my husband was diagnosed with an incurable eye disease last year. Well, it was incurable at the time – he’s since been included on a very promising clinical trial which promises to save almost all of his remaining sight, and preserve our children’s (it’s genetic and dominant) eyesight to 100% πŸ™‚

        Positive thinking is an incredible thing!

      12. Raymond on October 16th, 2007 4:17 am

        Thanks for showing me the way of how to get out of the little box.

        I learn another thing today. I never think that I can respond this way πŸ˜‰

      13. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker on October 17th, 2007 7:55 am

        Edward, good for you. With doctors, I take the little bit of information that they give me and find out every bit of information that I can on whatever condition that the doctor decides that I have. I have done this since I was 27 and my OBGYN decided that I needed a hysterectomy 3 months after telling me that I didn’t. I did not do as he planned. I still have all of my female organs intact. I researched him and found out that he had a record for doing the most number of unneccessary hysterectomies in our town. I never went back to him. That is when my distrust of doctors started.
        4 years ago, I had a doctor who actually told me that I read too much, just because I asked him questions about my health. He didn’t like it. He obviously thought he was God. I didn’t. I never went back to him. I now have a Nurse Practictioner as a Doctor and I love her. She takes the time to listen. She answers my questions. She is ok with me doing alternative medicines as much as possible. She is ok with me going to a friend who is an Intuitive Healing. She fully supports my point of view. There are good doctors out there who are beginning to look at their patients as whole physical and spiritual beings. Ed, keep speaking up for your daughter and yourself.

      14. Edward Mills on October 18th, 2007 8:50 am

        Steve. Thanks for the feedback. You’re right on about the complaining thing. I knew that I was triggered when I wrote this post. And I actually waited a few days before posting it. It’s also why I added the disclaimer at the top. As long as I believe that the “conventional” medical system is flawed, I will continue to attract examples of that belief into my life.

        So I “get it” and, at the same time, I think that there is something of value for others in this experience. So, at the risk of “feeding the complaining fire” I decided to go ahead and post it.

      15. Edward Mills on October 18th, 2007 8:53 am

        Theresa. I know that the doctor experienced something new that day. Whether or not it will make a difference in the way he “treat” his patients I can’t say. I would be thrilled if it did make a difference in the experience of the next family.

      16. Edward Mills on October 18th, 2007 8:59 am

        Jennifer. Great point about the “lingo.” After reading your comment, I realize that I fall into that trap from time to time. I go into Law of Attraction speak or personal growth talk, taking it for granted that everybody speaks that same language. They don’t! So it’s a good lesson for me to be aware of also!

        Annie. Great story. And what a wonderful, happy ending!

        Raymond. You can respond any way you want!

      17. pinkblocks - personal power and self help » Blog Carnival on Personal Power October 27 2007 on October 29th, 2007 3:15 am

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