One of my friends was worried about his health. He was getting sick all the time, and felt exhausted no matter how long he slept. His wife told him he was snoring and stopped breathing once in a while at night. He told his doctor that he suspected that he may have obstructive sleep apnea. His doctor told him that he’s too thin and doesn’t fit the typical profile.
This went on for many years. Finally, he came to see me, and sure enough, he had moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. He started using CPAP and felt like a new person. Needless to say, he went to a different doctor after this.
Patients will often tell me various symptoms that may initially seem unlikely, or even whacky. But one thing I learned over the last 15 years in practice is that usually, the patient is right. You as the patient will know your own body much better than your doctor.
What I found was that there was usually another more important issue that stood underneath the main symptom or complaint. If you feel like your doctor isn’t listening to you or understanding you, here are 5 thing you can do or say:
1. Try to rephrase your concern or symptom. Sometimes reframing your statement can not only get your doctor to listen, but it’s a gentle way of reminding him or her that you have something important to say.
2. Be direct and state that you feel like he is not listening. Different people will have different comfort levels with this, but in general, honesty is the best policy.
3. Explain in much more detail why this issue is so important to you. My friend’s father had similar health issues when younger and died early of a heart attack.
4. Be understanding and bring it up again the next time. Maybe she’s having a bad day, or he’s running late. Don’t take it personally.
5. Move on to another doctor. If this pattern continues despite multiple attempts to relay your concerns, then it’s time to find another doctor.
Have you ever been in this situation? If so, what did you do or say?