Caregivers, Advocacy, and Doctors

As a caregiver to someone with chronic pain, you are counted on to be an advocate for their treatment. You are needed to be their voice when they simply do not have the energy to fight back. Sometimes, you will have to be the one to ask the list of questions that have been prepared for the doctor prior to an appointment.

Doctor to patient ratio

I believe that for the most part, doctors do in fact care about their patients’ well-being. The problem is, they are often bombarded with too many patients, struggling with insurance companies trying to get medications approved, all while trying to keep up to date with the newest medications and treatments. As a result, doctors simply do not have as much time to spend with each patient.

Priortizing your questions for your doctor

I would say to consider all of those things prior to pounding the doctor with all possible questions at once. Definitely ask your doctor the questions you have, but perhaps prioritize the list and then choose the most relevant ones to ask the doctor. If necessary, ask the doctor if they know of a place or website you might go to in an attempt of researching new information on your own.

Advocating but losing my temper

The struggle I seem to have is finding that fine line between advocating for my spouse, badgering the doctor, and then trying not to step over that line. I am not always successful. I have lost my temper with her doctors before and only very rarely has it ever benefited us. Most of the time, once a voice has been raised, the productive conversation is over. It only makes everyone uncomfortable and tense.

Challenges of advocating for relief

Trying to advocate has its own difficulties, often leaving the patient, caregiver and doctor frustrated. We all want to find some way to get relief, but we do not always know what to do to achieve it. A doctor will have a tendency to go with his “go to” treatments and medications because they are what has been most successful. Patients and caregivers may be more likely to inquire about fresh new treatments or medications because they are unhappy with their current plan (or the results of that plan).

Finding common ground even if desires differ

Often, this can lead to a disconnect between the doctor and the patient. As a caregiver, it will often fall to you to try and find a bridge between what the doctor knows and is comfortable with doing and what the patient wants to try. It is important to remember that, the only way to make any progress with treatments, is for everyone to try and remain amicable. The doctor should be willing to acknowledge the patient’s desire to try new things. At the same time, patients and caregivers should be willing to acknowledge that the doctor may not agree with the patient’s desires because they know more about the possible outcomes than the patient does.

Where we are leftMy wife and I continuously try to find ways to improve her level of care. Unfortunately, it is not always productive. She is still in pain more days than not. She still deals with medications that only occasionally work and all of this combined leaves her and I both at our wits end. We strive to find better ways to cope with her condition each day. Most days we simply sit with each other and hold hands, and while it doesn’t always help, it is all we can do.

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