What are so many people afraid of doctors and lawyers?

Some of you may immediately respond “I am not afraid of them”.  And if you are one of those people, I applaud you.  You have what it takes to do what you need to do for yourselves without being afraid. I wish I could honestly say that I am like you in that way.  

Unfortunately, many people are afraid of representatives of both occupations.  Part of it may be that we see them as authority figures…people who can tell us what we need to know.  Many people with high blood pressure will report that when they go in to see the doctor, their blood pressure actually goes up.  I am one of those people.  My last two doctors understood this, and when the nurse took the blood pressure and it was higher than they wanted it to be, they would then do it themselves or have the nurse do it again after I had been sitting in the examination room for a while.  It was always down the second time…sometimes by a considerable amount.

It is also my opinion that like Lawyers, doctors often try to be intimidating.  Their knowledge in their chosen subject sometimes bleeds over into a generally aloof, and/or authoritarian attitude about everything.  My mother was semi-comatose for the last few weeks but communicated with me.  She didn’t with the doctor, because the doctor stood upright and kind of yelled down at her.  Mom wouldn’t have responded well to that aloof, somewhat superior behavior when she was well.  That led the doctor to question my statements at every turn and insist that mom was unresponsive even though I knew in my heart that she was responding to me.

I have learned over the years from personal experience that one can and should stand up to doctors at certain times.  They are NOT perfect and have their “procedures” which may or may not serve you, the particular patient, in good stead.  When you know what works in your body, standing up is what you need to do, but it is very hard sometimes because of this fear of doctors that many of us have had rammed down our psychological throats. Let’s face it, some doctors and lawyers have this in common with them, do tend to be prone to having what is called a “god complex”.

My mother was so afraid of her first doctor that she had when I was young that even when she KNEW his treatment wasn’t working, she felt trapped and wouldn’t change doctors or even consider seeing another one.  She was afraid because he knew her so well, that somehow that information wouldn’t track over, and her care would be lost if she tried changing doctors. She actually made a statement to me one time that getting another opinion might upset Dr. X and he might take it out on her. But then, I never ever liked that particular doctor anyway because of his attitude and would have been more than willing to change doctors, in her place. She didn’t agree with me, obviously and she was the one with the situation, not me.

Latter, of course, I understood the fear more, when it was a situation that was mine. If I am changing doctors, there is no reason for fear afterwards but changing in and of itself can be scary. Questions come up, if you are a worry wart like myself, like “what if I don’t find a good new doctor and am in worse shape than I am now”.

Within the last four years, I had to deal with exactly such an issue. My doctor at the time told me that I had diabetes. However, that is all the nurse explained. She did tell me that I needed to eat no more than 2000 calories per day, but that left me in a quandary. Without guidance, I somehow just knew there was more that I needed to know, but it didn’t seem to be forthcoming. In fact, there seemed to be an odd indifference to my situation and the internet was driving me crazy with the conflicting advice.

Now here is where I understand the fear.  I called, make an appointment with an Endo/internal medicine person.  The first appointment is Jan 18th, 2017 (about 6 months away).  That is a long time.  Now I told the office that I was going to keep looking..that I thought I needed a new doctor before then for the proper treatment of my diabetes.

But there is still that fear.  Will I like the new guy?  He speaks with a bit of an accent, will I be able to understand him?  What happens between now and January 18th?  Will one of my other resources find another option?  (and then, with the possible exception of the accent question, repeat the questions about THAT option as well).

So maybe part of the fear of doctors is related to the uncertainly.  Their busy schedules makes you have to wait, and that is scarey if you have an immediate health issue, as I do.  Once a doctor is picked I can work on standing up to him or her but in the meantime I am “uncomfortable”…a feeling that I think is natural.

The resolution, as it turned out, was actually not the doctor I was planning to check in with above. I just picked a different general internist and made an appointment after searching for options on my insurance plan. I went in, and the difference was amazing. For one thing, the new guy (and yes, I still like dealing with a male doctor, I am personally more comfortable) was way more engaged. However, in addition, he has a website that allows me to actually check the test results myself. If I have questions, say something is either high or low from the range recommended, I can then call or message him to find out if it is a problem. Incidentally, it usually isn’t.

That online service also served me well recently when I had a PSA test to check six months after a prostate cancer scare. That specialist had told me that my test result stood at 4.9 and there was no cancer at the time of the original exploratory surgery. He said, at the result review, that if the figure went up significantly in six months, we would need to “explore” again. I went for the test, and had an appointment for another consult within the last month, and saw the results showed the same number. So, I called, being concerned about keeping my exposure to the public limited as much as possible, and checked if I really needed to come in for a consult considering the way we went into this. The conclusion was that with the arrangements we had to start with and the numbers remaining the same, I could wait another six months to come back, AFTER have another blood test.

So being brave, and taking some charge of your own medical care can actually serve you well over the long haul. The way I look at it now, at this point in my life, of course, is different than it might have been if I had continued to live in the same town. But since I moved from Tennesee to Louisiana in February of 2014, after retiring, I had to change doctors and haven’t got that attacked to either of the two doctors I have had since I moved. It was easy to leave the first Louisiana doctor after about three years, and if I needed to, I could leave this one as well. I might just do that if I manage to move across town to where I REALLY want to be at some point in the next few years anyway.

My mother had lived in the same town for 25 years, and had the same doctor and was attached. That had to have been different, but still, I would hope even in the same situation, I would have the nerve to speak up for myself more than she did. I tend to see medical doctors as people who are there to help us, and if they aren’t helping us as much as we deserve, we need to change doctors. The only option is to either suffer in silence or confront them. I have confronted an anesthesiologist who tried to put me totally to sleep when my surgeon had reassured me that it wouldn’t be done if not absolutely necessary. I stopped him and refused to sign the paperwork, which made him angry. It made him even angrier when the surgeon backed me up. It turned out, that I didn’t have to be knocked out totally and the surgery went fine.

I write this to illustrate that my experience dealing with the medical profession has been better when I have been willing to call them on their attitude or change doctors when their actions are not serving me. I, also, have benefitted from being assertive when it is my health and well being that is on the line, and they want to do something I don’t want to do. Now, that is not always the case. Some things the doctor should be listened to on when it is their expertise. I wouldn’t suggest ignoring their recommendation to have a checkup or to have a colon examination is recommended, especially when cancer runs in the family. However, as with my situation with the anesthesiologist, my fear of the way the surgeon had described what the general anesthesia would do in terms of metal rods and a metallic taste, etc, was so scary to me that I had to speak up, and am very glad that I did.

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