There are a few phrases that come to mind about my experience at the doctors office the other day.
One is practice what you preach.
Two is, walk the talk.
I had to have a procedure done. Not an infertility procedure, but it was hauntingly similar to the procedures done in a fertility program.
Especially the part where I was told it would not hurt that much. I might feel a pinch.
I definitely felt a pinch. I would go a step farther and say that it did hurt and it hurt a whole lot more than a pinch.
I'm very happy that our doctors and nurses give out instructions about certain of our procedures, such as the HSG, and advise taking pain medication.
There's a reason that we do that. Because we know it's painful. And because we would like our patients to trust us when we say it's not painful.
A lot of this is about trust. If our doctor says its not going to be painful and it is, it erodes our trust in their words and their judgement.
How do we trust them when they say that again?
If they're not trustworthy about a procedure being painful or not, how do we feel about hearing other information from them? How do we trust results or diagnoses?
I'll leave my experiences at the doctors for another day. This subject of trust with our doctors is too important.
There are simple ways of making sure that we patients understand how something may feel. There is language that can be used that is easy to understand.
How about this?
- Most patients feel only a slight prick. However, some people feel quite a bit more than that. Please don't be alarmed either way, as both reactions are within the range of normal.
- Only 2% of the people who have this test will feel any discomfort at all. If you happen to be in that 2%, please know that it will be over in just a very few moments. Less than a minute, in fact.
- We do everything that we can to ensure that this testing is not painful. However, sometimes, it can be very uncomfortable. Try to stay as relaxed as possible, breathing deeply will help.
Each of those phrases is three sentences.
Any one of those sentences would have built the trust that I had in my doctor the other day. Any of those phrases would have better prepared me for a procedure that was not a simple pinch and did in fact, hurt.
Part of the problem with a procedure hurting, is that it's alarming. If we're told that it's not going to hurt, then that's what we expect. If we're expecting that it's not going to hurt and it does, we worry that something's wrong.
We worry that something is wrong with with us. Sometimes we even worry that something is wrong with our doctors expertise. After all, they're the ones who said it wouldn't hurt.
It all comes back to trust. We want and need to trust our doctors.
We want them to be honest, but not alarmist. We want them to say the right things, in the right tone, at the right moment, in the right way.
But we're reasonable. If they don't do all of that, it's ok. We can forgive them and move on.
When it comes to pain, though, it erodes trust on a very different level.
So, maybe we should help them out. Maybe when they describe a pinch, and we are actually left gasping with pain, let's make an agreement, right here and now.
Let's tell them.
Let's educate them.
Let's help them understand what to say to the next patient.
Yep, we can change the world, one moment at a time.
We want our doctors to be truthful with us. Let's be truthful with them. If it doesn't hurt, let's tell them.
If it does hurt, though, let's tell them that too.