Dr. Escabi: The patient-doctor team is a patient-doctor relationship
Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War that, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
So, my question to you is ... medically speaking, who or what is the enemy? In my opinion, the enemy is whomever or whatever you choose it to be, but let me explain.
I’ve seen patients set their sights on everything but what needs to be addressed for them to be healthier. Some patients wage their war against the physician in many different ways.
For example, patients will not take medications, or vaccinations or tests because they see them as unnecessary or sometimes even more harmful than the disease itself. Rather than fighting an illness, they will fight the treatment. While there are instances in which treatment may have unwanted effects, the fact remains that your doctor will offer treatment with the intention to alleviate a condition, without intention to do harm, but sometimes with knowledge of possible negative effects; it is a calculated risk in which it is expected that treatment will provide more benefit than harm.
Other times, the bullseye is painted on the physician him or herself because that is the person who is upsetting the patient. Nobody likes to hear they are wrong; it is human nature. So when a physician says a patient needs to change a lifestyle to a healthier one, some patients may feel reprimanded or some simply may not want to give up certain things they really enjoy, despite whatever harmful effects those things may cause on their health.
I say all that to say this: The real enemy needs to be the illness. The sooner you -- as a patient -- realize that, the better your chances of beating an illness and achieving a better quality of life. Another thing to remember is your physician should always be in your corner and should be your biggest ally in that fight.
But that does not mean you need to obey your physician blindly because both extremes can be bad. Going back to the headline of this column, it should be a patient-doctor team, but for that to happen, an intelligent conversation needs to take place.
As a patient, it is your right and responsibility to ask questions. Know and understand the details about your medical conditions, its treatments, things you can do to improve them or can avoid to prevent them. Read from other sources so you can have an informed conversation with your physician, but please make sure your information comes from a reputable source.
If you see your physician as your ally in the never-ending struggle for your health, and trust him or her with all the information related to your conditions, inform yourself and make shared, intelligent decisions about your treatments, I believe you will be significantly more satisfied with your health and whatever you’ve done to keep or improve it.
Please contact me if you are interested in some good reliable sources for medical information, that are written for patients.