What does being a good patient even mean? As far as I can tell, it’s generally assumed to be allowing others to take care of you, and doing what you’re told.
What about being an informed & involved patient? Researching your subject, thoroughly checking out the pros and cons of any treatments so when you are given options you can make an informed choice?
Or an independent patient – someone who prefers to take care of themselves, soldiering on rather than depending on others. Whilst there are doubtless frustrations with this – especially for anyone living with someone who takes this course of action – it’s hard to argue against an individual’s right to choice. Indeed, so long as you’re not putting yourself (or anyone else) in danger by taking this course of action, is there anything actually wrong with making this choice?
While I generally follow the instructions of medical professionals, I don’t do it blindly. There’s no need to be distrustful and doubting, but being involved, informed and in tune with your gut, helps to keep you both invested in your care, and – I believe – safer.
When we first moved to this country, our doctor expressed her beliefs on the subjects of good old-fashioned common sense and the dangers of an over-reliance on unnecessary drugs (anti-biotics in particular). She taught us – indirectly – about the importance of being active in our well-being. Since that time, I’ve also taken advantage of a number of alternative options, including a professional nutritionist, certain homeopathic remedies (to the evident satisfaction of nursing staff), as well as chiropractic and acupuncture. I have learned that while there is some stuff you have to live with, there are things you can do to help yourself – some of which are outside of traditional medicine. To me, traditional and alternative treatments are complementary, and it is worthwhile turning to to the second, especially when the first cannot help.
But this doesn’t mean I’m some sort of hippy-dippy self-deluding patient. When diagnosed with breast cancer, I didn’t seek to treat it with essential oils or coffee enemas, I had surgery, radiation therapy and took the prescribed drugs. But but doing a bit of research, I knew ahead of time that my surgeon was within the top 3 in the UK, and that my local hospital’s cancer wing was very highly rated indeed, so I didn’t need to add to the stresses of my treatment by going to the treatment centre with the big name and the complex journey. I was an informed patient, rather than a passive one.
I do advocate people making an informed decision, but if anyone prefers to simply follow the instructions of their medical professionals, I respect their decision and don’t beat my drum. At the other end of the spectrum, Himself is of the soldering on type, avoiding hospitals and medical professionals at all costs – so far, so stereotypically male. Yet I’ve never had cause to complain about him having man flu or displaying any form of self-pitying behaviour. He’s a responsible grown-up who’s chosen
avoidance his way. We’ve discussed the subject at length and I’ve come to the state of mind that the fact I don’t agree with those choices is neither here nor there. I respect him, so I respect them.
What do you regard as being “a good patient”? What type of patient are you?
© Debra Carey, 2021