Thursday, August 11, 2011


A proactive person is someone who is observant about what is going on around him/her. Most of us would benefit from being a bit more proactive about everyday matters, including our health.

I like doctors. They serve the public even if their collective reputation has become somewhat tarnished in recent years. The kindly, local doctor who knew the patient and their family has largely gone the way of the buggy whip. Today's doctors are either specialists, focusing on one part of the anatomy or are in general practice. The latter means the doctor sees one patient after another in more or less rapid succession, often spending only a brief amount of time with each.

So let's say you feel the need to see your doctor. Consider doing a little homework before your appointment. Be prepared with questions you might have and write down your concerns. Note how certain medication or foods made you feel. Does your back hurt? What exercising or lifting did you do that may have contributed to it? The more information you provide to the doctor, the better your result.

Today's doctors seem trained to treat the immediate complaint, a bit like a parent who sees their child's scraped knee and reaches for the band-aids. The goal is to fix the pressing problem. At the conclusion of the appointment, the patient usually feels better, relieved that the problem was neither complicated nor exotic. The doctor moves on to see the next patient.

Doctors may appreciate having a dialogue with the patient about the reason for the visit. Concern by the patient demonstrates that he/she has reflected on the purpose of the appointment and may help shed light on perhaps a larger ailment/injury. Several years ago, I met with my doctor and explained my problem, offering a suggested reason. My doctor became extremely upset and shouted, "If you think you are so much smarter than me, then I think you need to see another doctor." With that outburst, he told me to leave his office. I was stunned and shaken, but found another doctor and while my problem was easily resolved, the incident was not forgotten. It was some time before I dared to hold an open discussion with a doctor again. Hopefully, such incidents do not frequently occur.

Liike the vehicles we drive, the body is a complicated machine which may require fine tuning. When you have questions about diagnosis or treatment, check the internet and visit one of many helpful websites. There are many available to answer questions about aches, pains or procedures. Get familiar with the internet and what is has to offer. If you are not comfortable with searching the web, ask someone to help you. Most libraries have assistants who can help you.

Before your next scheduled meeting with your doctor, do a little investigation into the matter, see what you can find and jot down your questions. Both you and the doctor may benefit.

Some sites to get you started:

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