It can be really difficult to ask questions and express how you feel when you see your consultant or even your regular GP. You're not on your own. At times I've been told I I suffer with "White Coat Syndrome" - my blood pressure would go up, I would stutter (I'm usually pretty gobby) and start to sweat.
Human beings like me
I look upon it like doctors are human beings like me. They came into the world like me and will leave this world the same as I will. The difference is that if it weren't for people like us who are ill, they wouldn't have a job. So really, they could thank us. It may seem a daft way to look at it but it is totally true. If there weren't any sick people there wouldn't be a need for doctors.
How should we prepare for appointments?
I understand they're always pushed for time but I always make a list of what I want to discuss. This is especially important if I'm seeing a consultant as it's not often I get to see one so I feel the need to discuss what I want to discuss. We have a right to this as it's our well-being they're seeing us for. Make notes what you want to discuss and don't allow them to fob you off. It's your time allocated for you.
Seeing your local GP can be a lot easier than seeing your consultant. More appointments are generally available within a few days and I always work on the same basis. Write down the questions and what you want to discuss. That way you're not going to forget what you want to say. Here in the UK, you can't go with a list of ailments but your appointments are a lot more frequent.
No different from us
Remember, they aren't any different from us - they're human beings. It's important not to feel inadequate or the lesser person because you're NOT. You are an EQUAL. Stand firm and stand tall with it. If you're unhappy with your consultant or doctor you can always ask for a second opinion. It is your right, everyone has the right to do this. You need to ask your consultant or doctor for this, and they will then refer you to someone else.
Look for an advocate
If you feel you cannot do this yourself, look for an advocate. They're usually based at local hospitals or surgeries and can work with you and (for example, come to hospital appointments with you). They can also speak on your behalf if you feel you cannot voice what you feel.
It is difficult if you feel intimidated by the consultant, especially when you are unwell. Sometimes it may seem easier to have a quiet life and say nothing at all. But we all deserve to have the right care and attention, and if we're not happy with it we have the right to change our consultant and general practitioner. Remember, stand firm and stand tall, ask the questions you have and share how you feel. If you need further assistance, request an advocate to come along with you to your appointments.
Do you advocate for yourself when you go to appointments? How? Share your experience here!
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Debz passed away in October of 2021. She is deeply missed but her positivity and resilience live on through her articles. Thank you for everything, Debz.
What do you like about the COPD.net community? (Select all that apply!)