Linda G. Hill

Life in progress

What the medical community doesn’t tell you

55 Comments

Multiple times in the past few months I’ve been to see doctors who haven’t told me the whole story. I suppose there’s a fine line they need to tread – some patients don’t want to know. I, however, do not fall into that category.

The first was my optician. I went for a checkup where I was told I needed to make sure I wear sunglasses when I go out and to make sure I rest my eyes occasionally when I work on the computer. No problem, right? So a few weeks later I bought sunglasses and I during that time walked away from my screen once every couple of hours.

Then I went back to see the optician because I was still having trouble.

“Oh, you have the beginnings of a cataract,” she told me this time.

“I what?!?”

“Yes, that’s why I told you to wear sunglasses and to rest your eyes.”

Had I been told that in the first place, I might have been a little more diligent, don’t you think? I didn’t say those exact words out loud, but the answer to what I did say went something like, “I didn’t want to scare you.”

Right.

Next, my shoulder. As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I have a rotator cuff injury and tendonitis. I’ve been told by numerous doctors over and over not to push myself past my pain limit. Until today I didn’t know why. Wanna know why?

Apparently if I put too much pressure on my tendons when they’re swollen and inflamed they can snap. Break right in two. Then I’ll have to get into surgery within 24 hours or I can say goodbye to the broken tendon for the rest of my life. I was told by the doctor (a resident working under my family doctor) that if I hear or feel a snap I’ll see my arm swell as the muscle, free of being held in place, runs down my arm and pools at my elbow… Nice, eh?

Had I been told that in the first place…  See above.

Again, I understand there are people in this world who wouldn’t want to know these things about their bodies. But there’s nothing quite like the worst case scenario to keep a person from doing something stupid out of ignorance.

Our physicians’ job is to help us heal. It’s also within their power to protect us from ourselves by either giving us the information we need – or not. Communication is of the utmost importance. If we want to know, we have to tell them and they need to be honest; it goes both ways.

Would you want to know? Because if not, I strongly suggest you follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter. You don’t know what kind of pain you’re in for otherwise.

Author: LindaGHill

There's a writer in here, clawing her way out.

55 thoughts on “What the medical community doesn’t tell you

  1. I make it my business to know. I ask tons of questions. Then I go home to my umpteen medical journals and my friend google to investigate. Forewarned is forearmed. 🙂

    Like

  2. I expect to be treated as the intelligent adult woman I am and I expect nothing less than the full story from my doctor. Condescending to patients is so wrong!

    Like

  3. Yeah, I want to know everything. And being a nurse, I’d think my md would come clean, not hold back. Wrong. It took asking for records of my diagnostic tests to understand the real nature of my heart problem. As a matter of fact, asked for all my medical records today – it’s second opinion time!

    Like

  4. That is why I make sure I bombard the doctors and physicians with so many questions, they finally tell me the details (may be with the intention to scare me 😉 )

    Like

  5. The “logic” that some medical professionals use is all too often mystifying to us mere mortals… I once had to visit the ER after spending three days violently purging assorted substances from every orifice, and they literally told me nothing. Exam, “here, take these” and punted out again. Never found out what was supposedly actually wrong with me. Another time I went in for pneumonia, the doc takes x-rays, comes back in a while later and wants to know when I broke my collarbone. I’m left saying “Uh, what?” Turns out that one of the times I went in for a dislocated shoulder (I have problems with the muscle tissue in both shoulders that makes them dislocate at the drop of a hat; fun at parties, but sometimes I can’t pop it back in by myself), they took the x-Rays for that, popped it back in, and noted in my records that I had also cracked my collarbone, but never bothered to tell me or do anything about it.

    Me and doctors aren’t friends.

    Like

  6. Definitely on board in the wanting-to-know boat! Geez. That’s terrible you weren’t told these things!

    Like

  7. I got lucky, our family doctor is a youngster (late 20’s early 30’s) he’s at least a decade and some younger than me, he is a no nonsense doctor who tells you the cold hard facts like it or not, he is also a very compassionate doctor, he personally took over my wifes care during her last weeks at Palliative Care in the hospital, he often spent his entire night there with her, when she passed , he phoned me the next day to give his condolences, he was crying, it really hurt him that he couldn’t save her, he takes good care of both Hammy and I and I am grateful to have him as our family doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This drives me nuts about doctors. Yes, I would want to know. But I also believe in honesty in all things; which means I expect it as well as strive to give it. It’s annoying when professionals don’t, and I don’t really care if it’s because there are people who don’t want to know!

    Like

    • I find it easier to get information when it concerns my kids – not sure if that’s me or them. Sometimes when you’re sick yourself it’s hard to remember to ask all the right questions though.
      Thanks for your comment, Leigh. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m with Laura on general principles. I have had cancer and kidney failure I can tell you that doctors do that all the time. It burns my butt. I get so angry with them and I’ve blown my stack a few times on that subject. If I had known what signs to look for post-cancer, the kidney failure could have been avoided- but they thought it might upset me to tell me the possibility so they didn’t. Now I face a life of dialysis or transplants because they didn’t want to upset me (the radiation caused scarring in the ureters and over time killed the kidneys – the symptoms were obvious if you knew what to look for). I coulda shot them. Dialysis has a slew of nasty side effects – none of which i was warned about. One, peripheral neuropathy, involves the degradation of the motor control and sensory nerves in the peripheries – mostly legs. It has impaired my walking and balance seriously so that I can barely walk. They can do nothing about it and so decided that I shouldn’t know. i couldn’t figure out what was happening and found out through other sources. I asked for testing and the doctors kept avoiding it. Eventually, I pushed until i got the tests and it was confirmed. The doctors don’t know what causes it so they won’t even do the tests. I could have taken steps to reduce or delay it had I known.

    The list is endless.

    Sorry, Linda, this is a pet peeve of mine. great post. Thank you.

    Like

    • That’s so terrible, Paul. I sometimes wish we had a similar system as they have in the U.S., where they sue as soon as look at you. It might possibly increase the quality of care we get here.
      I saw in a comment on another blog that you’re heading to the hospital today… I hope everything is all right.
      Thinking of you.

      Like

      • I chickened out and moved it to Monday when the docs are in. They’d have just put me in a bed until Monday anyway – and the wait in ER is shorter. I have a colostomy and to do that they have to go through the leather-like barrier that holds in your stomach muscles. It has failed and there is a growing bulge (TMI?)- like a hernia.. It has to be fixed. thanks for the good wishes.

        Like

  10. Hi Linda, I hope you are going to be ok…..that possible tendon injury doesn’t sound too good. Yes you do need to wear sunglasses to protect those beautiful eyes. I must live in a different world to you as my dr’s are blunt to the point of confrontational in telling me where I stand with my condition. Basically my specialist says to me: I am trying to save your kidneys, take this and do that…..I know where I stand and where to sit……..I am currently on a plan to reduce weight thereby reducing BP…..easier said than done…..I am now exercising, changed my eating habits and weigh more than I did last week…..go figure….

    Like

  11. First of all, very glad you’re okay. And definitely take care of you – I’ve had the shoulder surgery for a torn cuff and bone spurs. Not fun at all. Sounds like maybe some new doctors are in order. YIKES!!

    Like

  12. DR’s treat us like mushrooms. They keep us in the dark and feed us shit!!

    Like

  13. I’m a lymphedema therapist (not currently practicing). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymphedema for TMI.) In brief… In the USA and like countries, the main cause of lymphedema is surgery for something else, usually breast cancer. The pathways (vessels) for the lymph system usually gets obstructed, usually in the armpit, and it cause fluid build up in the arm. You may have seen women who have had breast cancer surgery end up with “fat” arms, or women wearing elastic sleeves.

    One of THE most common problems is lack of information, from doctor to patient. Exactly the same thing you are talking about. The best time to get a baseline reading for lymphedema is BEFORE the cancer surgery. It takes very little time, is just taking measurements, observations, maybe a photo. The woman may NEVER need it. It is nearly never done. Why? A variety of reasons but the most pervasive is: She just got a diagnosis of cancer, we don’t want to trouble her with a complication of what MIGHT happen.

    There are simple things a woman can do to prevent getting lymphedema, like “don’t carry the grocery bags in that hand.” How to treat bug bites in that arm. Signs to look for. Emphasis on SIMPLE. Women aren’t told because, again, we don’t want to worry anyone for a thing that might not happen. No one really knows why some people develop lymphedema and some do not. There are some people at higher risk. The doctors usually are not well versed in that information…lymphedema isn’t their concern, cancer is.

    I worked with cancer patients, those without lymphedema. In the 7 or so years I practiced, I had exactly ONE person who freaked out about being told of the possibility of lymphedema. All of the rest of the folks, especially the women who developed lymphedema and were not given basic preventative information, were like you… furious to be coddled so.

    I didn’t see enough patients, nor have I seen any studies, to know whether or not men were routinely not told these things when lower extremity lymphedema was a possibility. By far and away, women’s breast cancer was the most common situation.

    We have to be our own best advocates. When a doctor says, “Don’t do…xyz” we have to ask them “WHY?” That’s so easy to forget to do but it is important.

    Like

    • Wow. It must have been a very frustrating situation to deal with, knowing that what these poor women were going through could have been so easily prevented. You must have wanted to scream it from the rooftops!
      I’ve dealt with a lot of different scenarios myself concerning my son’s heart condition. I was (and still am) forever asking questions of every doctor I came in contact with, and for the most part they were helpful. NOW I know what to look for when he gets sick – more often than not I’m the one to bring up the possible complications that the doctors neglect to mention. Now if I can only advocate for myself in the same way…
      Thanks so much for sharing this, Laura.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on Good Lifestyler and commented:
    I completely understand where you are coming from. I’m doing Medical Law this year at university and we had a big discussion about this. We were talking about doctors have discretion with the amount of information they provide to patients. There is something about them only being required to to give enough information in order to allow the patient to give “informed consent”. This means knowing about the main risks, but they do not have to know about every single eventuality which may occur. We had a problem drawing the line between not giving enough information and information overload. Some people would prefer to know all of the information about a procedure, others would rather not know. If doctors were expected to give all of the information about every procedure, it would put further strain on their time (and potentially put a lot of people off potentially life-saving procedures). As with all medical law, there is a careful need to balance the interests and sometimes the lesser of two evils is all we can hope for.
    An really interesting post, thanks for sharing your thoughts 😀

    Like

    • Thanks so much for your re-blog! I’ve missed seeing you around!
      What you say is very interesting… I really do think it depends on the individual in many cases, though in some, if there is a real need for concern I think the patient really needs to know. Not really something that can easily be regulated though, is it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know, it would just be too hard to set out guidelines for every possible scenario. Sorry I’ve been awol for a while. I’m in to my last few months of uni so been focused on my dissertation and stuff. Roll on 26th of may when I finish. I’ll be online a lot more from then on 😀

        Like

  15. I’m happy to know that you didn’t break anything Linda. I prefer also to know the truth and not all doctors either agree or understand this. Here I need to fight to get anything to know for serious. This I disagree about. Take care Linda 😉

    Like

  16. I would definitely want to know especially if it’s a reality check. I’m one those people that are blissfully ignorant. Not on purpose, I think. I guess, it’s more when I’m fed water down information, I DO tend to take it less seriously. I always tell my doctor to give it to me straight, in case I need to make a plan or something.

    So sorry about your shoulder and eyes. I’ve been having eye problems since I was little, who knows what the optician will tell by time I hit thirty.

    Like

    • Best of luck with your eyes, my dear. Vision problems really suck for a writer.
      As for being told what to expect, it’s always a good thing when there’s a need for planning. Who can afford surprises? Not many of us when it concerns our health and well-being.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’d be pi$$ed. To me, this falls into the negligence category. No doctor should be making a decision based on your emotional reaction. In my opinion, as you say, you were not given enough information in order to make an informed decision.

    Like

    • It really does make you wonder exactly how they go about making their decisions on how much to divulge. But only one of the … let me think… four doctors I saw about the problem (it may have been five) gave me any idea of what I was dealing with.

      Like

  18. God, it is quite scary that they didn’t explain to you exactly what is happening with your body and why you need to be careful about doing some things.
    I think I would want to know something like that for sure!

    Like

  19. Well, that tendon snap thing is scary. My leg tendon kept doing that after I broke my foot. Its OK now, though, thank heavens.

    I agree that sometimes you need more information, not less, from your doctors.

    Like

  20. OMG. How infuriated are you?

    Like

Don't hesitate - jump right in!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s