Friday, November 16, 2007

Partnership between Patient and Physician

Back when I was in college, I was still attending a pediatric CF clinic. My doctors were wonderful and knowledgeable--about pediatric things. Basically whenever I came in for an appointment it was because I needed something. I would request to start IVs on such-and-such a date because it worked well with my course schedule. When claritin didn't seem to be helping me take care of my allergy symptoms, I told them I wanted to be switched to Zyrtec.

Primarily they may have seemed like mere suppliers, but there was much more to it than that. I saw them not only as suppliers, because together we had developed a real synergy. They knew I was serious about my health and that I was good at reading my own body. They gave me the freedom to be an independent CF adult, and reminded me that they were always there for me when I needed them. My stage of CF at that time was quite routine, which is also why I saw them as suppliers. There were really no surprises with my health.

It came to a point however, where I had truly outgrown the pediatric clinic. They sat me down and said "we'll be happy to keep seeing you, but we think you'd benefit from the adult clinic." They left the decision up to me, again reinforcing the importance of being my own advocate when it came to my health.

Now that I'm at an adult clinic, I see things as a partnership. I tell my doctor what's going on, and he tells me how to manage it. He always lays out a few options for me, and together as a team, which includes my wonderfully supportive husband, we decide what is the best course of action for my health and quality of life. There have been new challenges over the last couple years. Things that were unfamiliar to me, which is why I needed to rely heavily on my doctor's expertise.

Even with all his knowledge of CF, he's still learning the specifics about ME. That's where our partnership comes in again. It's a give and take. He needs me to communicate with him effectively about what's working or not working for me; I need him to take my feedback into thoughtful consideration and present the best plan to meet my needs. When that happens, I benefit tremendously.

I like being actively involved in my own health care. I like knowing how and why things work--that's just my nature. On the other hand, I like the freedom of not having to be the one with all the answers. Because I have a doctor I trust, I don't have to waste precious energy second-guessing his opinions or treatment plans.

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