The Wrong Doctor, The Right Process
Both my parents and I inquired about any non-invasive alternatives to remedy this situation. “Of course, I am not enthusiastic about surgery either,” he said, “but unfortunately, the non-invasive methods are not effective and can actually pose more harm later down the road.” He explained each one and their implications, along with the details that his surgery entailed.
“Before doing anything, I would go in there and examine if I really needed to complete the surgery. I wouldn’t move forward with the operation if you didn’t. My only concern is that the condition could get worse if we don’t do it. I am giving you advice as if I was your father, and if I had to operate on you, I would operate on you as if you were my own daughter.”
I am one to cry only in times of excruciating pain, but this time was different. It was as if my eyes were my heart, bleeding tears of emotion so moved by his affectionate words of care and compassion. I couldn’t stop the stream of droplets raining on to the parchment. This was the first time a doctor had empathized with me and was genuinely committed to my healing.
He repeated again, “Of course I’m not enthusiastic about surgery either, but surgery is what I do, and that’s all I can offer you. I encourage you to see other people for their input. I want you to get every opinion you can. If you still need my input, come back to me.”
We scheduled an appointment for a couple of months later, planning on seeing other doctors in the waiting period. While nobody was excited about the results, I was actually relieved to have a potential answer and a potential cure. It’s hard to understand: For someone engrossed in a vicious cycle of suffer–search–repeat, if surgery is the only way out, I’ll take it. Anything to abate this ravaging physical and emotional nightmare. Anything to live a normal life again.
Over the next month, we scheduled a video-visit not with a surgeon, but a top-notch Gastroenterologist. He was very adamant: “No surgery. Out of anything, not surgery. I can see where this doctor is coming from, but if I had to diagnose you from a GI standpoint, you have severe IBS. The symptoms are manageable.” He prescribed me a couple of medications, just like other doctors had in the past, to take as needed when I flared. No luck.
Around this time, we were also referred to a dietician by another family friend of ours who experienced similar symptoms to me. “I saw a dietician back in December. My gut was angry, just like yours, and she cured me. I was on eleven foods for a month, and it was hard. But if it wasn’t for her, I don’t know where I would have turned.” He gave me her information. Currently, I am under her care hoping that this tailored approach will send me on a path to speedy healing.
Genuine advice, compassionate communication, and empathy are qualities that must be infused into the process of healing a patient. Health care can no longer be standardized by protocol: Health care must be personalized with a holistic approach that validates symptoms and searches for their root cause rather than dismissing them and blindly medicating them.