Doctor with his hand on patients shoulder.

Top Five Things a Doctor Has Done That Made a Positive Difference

The majority of people who suffer from a chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis (IBD) have to see their share of doctors. Aside from a gastroenterologist and primary care physician, it is not uncommon for inflammatory bowel disease patients to also need to see a wide variety of specialists given extraintestinal manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease are all too common. Given that, it is completely understandable why a lot of people in the chronic illness community have a lot of negative things to say about doctors. I am sure the average IBD patient has at least five outrageous stories about something a doctor said or did that would have someone either laughing hysterically or in extreme shock that a medical professional would say something so outrageous.

Some quick things that come to mind that hopefully can make some of you chuckle at the absurdity are:

  1. I once had a doctor tell me to “move my pain to the left side” and be mentally tougher.
  2. A nurse asked me if I needed to have my colon removed at a hospital.
  3. While inpatient receiving a blood transfusion, my GI was upset with me for not being able to exercise that morning.
  4. A resident asked me, while inpatient, how much blood they should take out of my picc line and what he should test for.
  5. While inpatient and after seeing my white blood cell count was 22,000, a GI fellow recommended I try probiotics.

The list can go on and on as I am sure most of you know

While I am obviously also very guilty of bad mouthing doctors and medical professionals when I feel they haven’t done right by me and/or made things much harder than it needed to be, I do want to take the time to recognize some of the things a doctor has done that has made my life a million times easier.

I have dealt with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for 17 years, have had 15 open abdominal surgeries, live with a permanent ileostomy, and suffer from multiple other chronic illnesses (including chronic migraines, fibromyalgia and pyoderma gangrenosum.) As such, I have had to see multiple GIs, surgeons, ostomy nurses, rheumatologists, neurologists and headache specialists, dermatologists, etc.

I want to share the top 5 things a doctor has done that has made a huge difference in my life because I feel it is also important to appreciate the good people who cross our paths.

Top Five Things A Doctor Has Done That Has Made a Positive Difference

  1. My first surgeon gave my parents his home number when I was having complication after complication that very few people understood. I was having an obstruction and since my dad was away and my mom didn’t want to drive over an hour with my younger brother home alone, we felt like I could go to a local ER given we had experienced this before. Long story short, it was a nightmare that my mom angrily signed me out AMA, and started driving the hour plus to the hospital that was treating me. Since I was in such bad shape by this time, my mom called my doctor at home in the middle of the night. He arranged for his resident, who we knew and liked, to meet us in the ER and take care of me. This was one of the worst nights that was made a million times easier by my doctor being so accessible and caring.
  2. When I was having problems on a Sunday and didn’t want to go through the ER because of how mentally upsetting it was, my surgeon met my parents and I in a random room in the hospital to care for me. He gathered whatever was needed and brought it into a room no one entered. Because I was having so many issues for over a year, the fact that I was able to have my doctor take care of something in such a calm way made a huge difference for my family and I.
  3. The second surgeon that came on my case is a man who I have known for close to fifteen years now. Because I needed him so much, he really got to know me as a person as opposed to a random patient. He also understood how traumatized I was in the hospital so he would make little deals with me so I could be discharged sooner. I remember a resident almost reporting him for letting me leave the hospital so soon but he knew I would have a better chance of recovering if I was home. This may sound like a no big deal, simple thing but with all of the surgeries I have had to have, knowing this man was on my side made it somewhat bearable. He also went above and beyond to make sure I got a private room whenever possible so my dad could stay overnight with me. When I was a bit more stable inpatient, my doctor would make sure that unless there was an emergency, or I called for them, they were not to enter my room between 11pm and 7am.
  4. When it was obvious I no longer had any veins, and people would try and try to take blood and get IVs in me, I begged him to help make it easier. He then arranged for me to have a picc line or central line whenever I had to have surgery and/or needed to be inpatient for an extended period of time. He also made sure I had enough lumens so there was no excuse not to be able to take blood, or give me medications and TPN all through the line.
  5. After my third surgery, I began writing contracts for both my doctor and the anesthesiologist prior to every surgery. The portion for my surgeon was about five pages, and one page only for the anesthesiologist. At this time, I had been through things I can’t even think about right now, but to me, a contract was needed for my peace of mind. I am thinking about sharing it publicly at some point but I digress. In this contract, I shared some of the worst things that happened to me in the hospital and wanted to know that it would never ever happen again. While most doctors probably wouldn’t have bothered to read it, my doctor not only went over everything and commented but also signed and dated it every time. He even convinced an anesthesiologist to sign when this doctor was unsure whether he legally was able to.‘

Good doctors make all the difference

While I know many of you reading this deal with way too many medical professionals, it is amazing the difference a good, caring doctor or nurse can make. There have been times when I was being cared for by a medical professional who treated me terribly and it made me want to give up or wonder how or if I could continue to go on living. But, when I had someone intelligent, smart with a good bedside manner, it gave me that much needed glimmer of hope.

What have your experiences been with medical professionals? Care to share some things a doctor/nurse has done that have made a positive difference for you and/or your loved ones? What about some of those idiotic comments we all get? Feel free to share those in the comments section below as well. While I wanted this article to focus on appreciating the good people in our lives, it never hurts to laugh with your fellow IBD family about all of the crazy ones out there! 🙂

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net 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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