Doctor Relationship Part 3
Putting it All Together
So… What now? Now’s the time to set up your treatment plan with your doctor. This is what you’ve been building this relationship to achieve - a collegial atmosphere where you can work together on a course that makes the most sense for you. What do YOU expect out of this course of treatment? What are realistic goals and expectations?
That bit about “realistic” is vital here, and where the first two pieces come most readily into play. If you and your doctor aren’t clear about what to expect from treatment, you’re going to wind up either over- or underestimating what might happen. I’ve seen this time and again in both myself and others. Since I understand more now, I know what to expect from certain things and am much more satisfied with my control over my care overall. It feels more like it's my care, instead of just what my doctor or some other provider wants for me.
Some doctors aren’t going to be willing to engage in this way. Sometimes, you’ll have to work with providers who just aren’t willing to play ball in terms of 1) helping you understand and 2) hearing your input. That’s when it’s time to change providers, as Colin demonstrated. You don’t want someone who is a total pushover, but you also want someone who will listen and take the time to explain things so you understand them. This doesn’t have to mean a longer appointment, but will certainly make for a more efficient one. Going in with defined goals that you believe are achievable can be a good way to frame the conversation.
If it seems like I’m sounding like I’ve got it all figured out, trust me when I say I definitely don’t, and it’s been a long journey even getting this far. Eight years ago, I was just leaving my first IDF conference, full of knowledge and ideas and not knowing at all where to start, but knowing I had to start making changes to improve my health.
Now, I walk into my immunologist’s office, ready to discuss my current situation, ask about what's the latest and greatest, and how we want to treat whatever it is I have going on or changes we might make to my current treatment plan, if I'm experiencing barriers to care. This time, it was a back and forth on how to treat the painful sinus/ear infection that I had. We decided to start with a burst of steroids and if things got worse or didn’t improve by the weekend to add antibiotics. We are trying to spare antibiotics when possible, and, in this case, it turned out to be the right choice.
I felt good about it in no small part because we discussed duration and dosing and he told me what he knew from the literature. We matched that with my experience and came up with a plan. An effective one. Isn’t that what we all want, in the end? To feel like we’re getting the best possible care from a knowledgeable, compassionate clinician? You can get there, I swear. If you’d known me eight years ago, you’d believe a little more in your own capacity to find a different path, because I believe in you!