Doctor Patient Relationship: Pick Your Battles

One of the many challenges of living with a chronic illness is knowing how (and when) to communicate with your care team. Having lived with inflammatory bowel disease for the past 18 years, I have been around a tremendous amount of medical professionals. Since I was diagnosed at the age of 13, I also witnessed how my parents communicated with doctors and nurses.

I have been dealing with a lot of issues that have brought me to the emergency room and be admitted a few times over the last four months. Because of that, I have had to go through a wide range of medical tests. I have also had to lean on my physicians more now than I have in years.

Receiving test results from the doctor

My loved ones were not okay with the situation, but I was. After two of my tests, my GI reached out to me in the patient portal within days to inform me of the results. However, after my last one, he simply released the results to me and had his nurse follow up. Given there was nothing for my GI to really say about the report, I was completely fine with how he handled the situation.

But, it was not fine for some of the people closest to me.

Following an additional test, my gynecologist took a couple of weeks to get back to me. This then led to me hearing over and over again all of their {negative} feelings about my current doctors. By the end of it all, I was left to feel like an absolute moron for being “fine” with how my doctors handled these situations. It also made me angry that my loved ones didn’t view the overall situation in the same way that I did.

My opinion is really all that matters

Then I realized, as long as I am happy with my care, it doesn’t matter what other people’s opinions are.

I personally feel as though both of those physicians have always done right by me. I believe they both truly care and have a deep understanding of all I have gone through. With a chronic illness like inflammatory bowel disease, I think we can all agree it takes a special person to understand the complexity of our lives and bodies.

After my last hospitalization, I messaged my GI in the patient portal since I was at a local hospital. I heard back within two hours.

Picking my battles with others

I have learned, like with any relationship, you have to pick and choose your battles. For me personally, I don’t care that my gastroenterologist didn’t spend 15 minutes on the phone with me discussing a test that showed absolutely nothing. Since I am so desperate for answers, It probably would have upset me more to talk about it than just seeing it in the patient portal.

While I don’t believe taking two weeks to get back to a patient about test results is acceptable, my doctor did apologize and was extremely helpful on the phone when we did speak. I absolutely love her and feel like she has gone above and beyond to help me during very difficult times.

A good care team is so important

I know living with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis can be overwhelming on so many levels. As I have said in another article, living with a chronic illness truly is like having another job. Between dealing with doctors, scheduling appointments, fighting with insurance, etc is can be a minefield. So, having a care team that you feel good about is extremely important.

While it is often helpful to get other opinions from people you trust, the most important opinion is your own. As long as you feel your doctors are doing right by you, that is all that matters. The more time I have spent on my health journey, the more I internalize that medical professionals are only human. They have to balance a tremendous amount, just like patients do.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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