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– Bedside manners 101

I wish that I could teach a class that all doctors were required to take in medical school…. Bedside Manners 101.  You could all help me teach it, I’m sure. The lessons are simple, but they seem to elude so many of them…

1.) Listen to your patient. They know their body better than you.
2.) Cancer (and many others) is a devastating diagnosis. Chill out and find your empathy.
3.) There are such things as miracles that defy the odds. Balance your need to help your patient know what to expect with communicating the hope of the outer range of what is possible.
4.) Empower your patient to take charge of their healing. You are only a swabbie. Your patient is the captain of this ship.
5.) Talk in plain language. Jargon that is second-nature to you may be new and frightening to your patient.
6.) You are not God, so don’t act like one. Be sensitive to the fear and awe some have of you. You can create a self-fulfilling prophecy when you tell people they will die.

I once had a radiologist gleefully exclaim that she was right!!! That the mass WAS cancer and I could have that mastectomy after all, as though it was the best news I could have received. Except that previous biopsies had “shown” that it wasn’t cancer and I had gone into her office just to confirm that. She was right, the others were wrong, and she was beside herself with pride. I had had no plans of getting a mastectomy, this was hardly good news, I was devastated, and I wanted to slap her for her insensitivity. There’s a reason radiologists don’t normally talk directly to patients. They should still have to take my class. : )

When I was diagnosed with Stage 4, the oncologist with tears in his eyes, said there was no hope for me. My son was in the Amazon on a survival semester and he said I needed to send a helicopter into the jungle to get him so he could say good-bye. “But, he has two more months in his program!”, I exclaimed. “You will not be alive in two months”, he said. That was October, 2012… 3 and a half years ago.

I went back after I came through the fires of hell, eight months later, and damn… I looked good! I was walking again and feeling good. I couldn’t wait to see how happy and surprised he would be. I had moved back to Colorado and I needed an oncologist for my ongoing immunotherapy infusions. I didn’t have a lot of choices… he ran the only clinic in town and that was a two-hour drive away. He was a cold fish and, as the conversation went on, I realized that he was irritated at my survival. My very existence was an affront to his ego… proof that he’d been wrong. Then he told me that I could not do my naturopathic protocol if I wanted to receive treatment from him. I said, “How the heck do you think I survived against all odds?” and walked out. I now drive an additional half hour each way to get my immunotherapy from an integrative oncologist.

Dr. Doomsday wasn’t necessarily wrong in his assumptions. I had tumors everywhere and there isn’t a doctor I’ve met that hasn’t shaken their head incredulously at my survival and recovery. I actually think I owe him a debt, possibly my life. See, he pissed me off when he tried to take away my hope. I thought to myself, “Oh, yeah? I’m not buying into that crap. This is not how my story will end. I’ll show YOU!” I’ll never know, but I wonder if he had not delivered such a dire prognosis in such extreme terms, if I would have simply and silently died?

The oncologist that worked to save me later admitted that she thought I had about two weeks left when she first saw me. The difference is that she didn’t tell me that until after I was NED… a day she never thought we’d see. She never told me how serious it was, just that we’d do what we could and encouraged me to hope and to fight and to do all the naturopathic things I wanted to.

I am relating this to you because doctors probably never will take that class on Bedside Manners. Doctors are a valuable tool in your toolbelt, but YOU are the master of your destiny. No one will ever care about your survival more than you. It is up to you to find out what they think, do the research, process it, and figure out what YOU think. Stay in touch with your body and your feelings and honor both. Your body is trying to heal from the toxins in our environment and the ones times we might put in to fight this disease. It is SOOO important to be loving and kind to your body… to detoxify and nourish it and support your immune system. Get in tune with your higher healing self. This is a voyage of self-discovery… embrace it. Surround yourself with loved ones that believe in you and get rid of energy vampires. And never, ever, ever let a doctor with bad bedside manners or anyone else snuff out your hope or belief in yourself. You got this…

At any given moment, you have the power to say,
this is not how the story is going to end.
— M.H.S. Pourri

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