31 Aug Medical Conversations Doctors and Patients Need to Be Having
Below is one doctor’s story that deals with the importance of honest communication between doctors and their patients.
It was early on a Monday morning, when my nurse let me know that the first patient coming in for the day was a woman named Sarah. As I browsed through her file, I could see that she had reported recently feeling a little on the sluggish side and had a few minor aches and pains as well. When she made her way back to the exam room, I could see her favoring her right side somewhat. I asked a few questions about how she was living her daily life in terms of her diet and exercise regimen.
Sarah reluctantly said that with a full-time job, a working husband, two kids in middle school, and two golden retrievers she simply didn’t have much free time for anything else. When I asked about her eating habits, she cringed. That said it all.
She said she did try to eat healthy, but after a long hard day all she wanted to do was to go home and prop her feet up. However, even that was never really possible. She copped to having fast food or a pizza delivery several times during the course of the week.
I stopped and laid down my clipboard in order to talk honestly with her. I felt the weight of the responsibility, as many doctors do, to help Sarah understand the direct connection between what she put into her body and how she felt every day.
I simply told her that if she filled her body with things that were not nourishing and strengthening her, then they were inevitably poisoning her instead. It might have sounded a little strong coming from her primary care doctor, but in her case knowledge could be a powerful tool to change how she was feeling.
I explained the role that protein played in not only helping her feel full longer, but also how it helped to strengthen her muscles. I helped her understand that if she could add at least a couple of servings of fresh vegetables through the course of her day, she would no longer have to take pills to keep her bowel movements both comfortable and regular.
And when she happened to mention that water wasn’t something that she enjoyed, I helped her see that there were many ways in which adding several glasses of nice cold water to her system would inherently benefit her as well.
The water would ultimately aid in clearing up her complexion, help her kidneys function properly, and help the body function better on a cellular level. At that point Sarah turned toward me and said, “Wow, I didn’t really think it mattered all that much.”
She may have innocently been unaware of the connection between her body and what she chose to eat, but she embraced our frank conversation completely. When a smiled began to brighten her face, it was clear to me that she was beginning to get the bigger picture.
I gave Sarah a pamphlet for her to look over once she got home and to continue to learn even more about her individual needs for nutrition. I can honestly say, that she left the office that day in much higher spirits than she had arrived.
These honest and open conversations are what give us as doctors the tools to help our patients be as healthy and happy as they possibly can be. It is important, both on a patient and physician level, to have open dialogues such as these so doctors can better serve their patients and patients can live healthier lives.
Dr. Sue Reddy specializes in the treatment of infectious disease among many other specialties. She understands what is required to live a healthy, active life. Please feel free to take a look around her website and if you feel she provides services you may be interested in, give Dr. Reddy a call. Her staff would be more than happy to set up an appointment and answer any questions you may have.