When you disabled or chronically ill sometimes you have to go to the doctor more than most people but not everyone does as often as they should because of the many negative experiences they have had with their physicians. . I have been fortunate to have some pretty good experiences with doctors but unfortunately, a lot of disabled people don’t have that and have had some pretty horrible experiences so they pretty much have nothing good to say about doctors or medical professionals in general. Good doctors are hard to find when your disabled and more difficult becaause you can’t see just anyone but good one do exist and unfortunately most disabled don’t believe that. It is important for everyone to have regular checkups to avoid major medical problems but it can be difficult to want to go to the doctor when you have had so many negative experiences. Disabled people should have regular checkups just like abled people but a lot of them don’t because they hate their doctor so in this post I am going to talk about ways medical professionals can have a more positive impact on disabled people.
Don’t be so quick to jump to weightloss- Sometimes people with chronic conditions are very hesitant to go to the doctor because they know their physician will just tell them to lose some weight since they could stand to lose a few pounds. Sometimes that is the problem and losing weight will help but sometimes it is not and losing weight will not change your symptoms in even the slightest way so it’s always important not to shut someone down and look at the bigger picture. We know our bodies better than anyone else so don’t be so quick to scream weight loss because there is nothing more frustrating when you know something is wrong with you but your doctor won’t look into it because they just think the solution is Weight Watchers! There is no harm in running some tests to see if there is something wrong because it’s always better to be safe and than sorry and if losing weight truly is the solution then at least now you know it wasn’t something serious.
Don’t talk down to your patients- When you are disabled sometimes you have to see multiple physicans to manage your condition. Sometimes when you go to a new doctor you can get the impression that they want you to know that they are the smartest one in the room. Technically that it true but what doctors have to understand is it’s a two-way street because although you may have more knowledge on my condition than I do you are not an expert with living with it. Patients know more about their condition than you think they do because we have to so don’t talk to them like they are idiots! You would be surprised with how much you can learn from your patients and how much they actually know about their condition that you didn’t think we would know. Have a conversation and discussion without being cocky because a lot of disabled people already feel unheard and uncomfortable at medical appointments so your only making this worse when you act that way so we don’t want to go.
Simplify your language- When was the last time when went to the doctor and they talk about your condition and you were like what? A lot of people who have been disabled their whole lives usually can figure out what their doctor saying because they are familiar with their condition but if you are newly disabled they might not be as familiar with it and need further explanation. Remember that your patients did not go to medical school so don’t use big words that they probably have never heard of and use language that even a toddler could understand. If they are still confused draw pictures because disability is scary and if someone doesn’t understand their condition there is a strong likilhood it won’t be as much of a priority so they won’t come back unless they absolutely have to.
Accessible exam rooms–Next time you go to the doctor I want you to take a look around the exam room and notice the size of it You may notice a lot of exams rooms in doctor’s offices are very small and can barely fit a small wheelchair which can be stressful for a disabled person because accessibility is important for us to function. I can go to the doctor and find a way to maneuver in a small exam room because I can get out of my chair if I had to but a lot of disabled people are not able to do that and if it doesn’t fit their chairs that doctor’s office is not going to work for them. A lot of disabled people struggle to find doctors because of the inaccessibility so they have to settle for someone they don’t even really like that much or stick to virtual appointments which is accessible and I do like them but not good for everything because sometimes you need in person appointments to get diagnosed more accurately.
Talk to the disabled person, not their caregivers- One of the things that a lot of abled people have a really bad habit of is when we are with our caregivers talking to them to get information instead of us! We are literally right there so why do you need to ask our caregiver the same questions we are going to end up answering anyways? There are some disabled people that need someone to speak for them but a vast majority are perfectly capable of having a conversation just like everyone else so ask the disabled person themselves and not their caregiver because it’s biggest pet peeve when people do that. If we have a question we can’t answer our caregivers will take over but otherwise we are perfectly capable of answering questions and effectively telling you are pain levels. We can probably do a better job with explaining how we are feeling than our caregivers can since we are living with the condition and they are only taking care of us.
Remember that unexplained pain is hard on your patients- One of the biggest complaints of disabled and chronically ill people is when doctors say insensitive things like we don’t know what it is so you will have to deal with it. This especially common within the migraine community and I can’t even begin to tell you how insensitive and damaging this is. I understand that sometimes you may not have the answers to someone’s pain and we understand that and don’t expect you to but we do ask that when you don’t you show more empathy and are more sensitive about it. Remember that unexplained pain is harder on the person experiencing than the person treating it so show a little compassion. How would you feel if someone tells you that there was nothing that could be done about your pain and you were just crazy? It would probably make you feel pretty depressed so why not try something more sensitive like I am sorry you are going through this but we will not give up and explore other options that I am hopeful will give you some relief. A lot of pain patients feel like their doctors give up on them too quickly so they feel alone like no one cares and saying it this way can be reassuring knowing that someone does care.
When you are disabled sometimes you have to go to the doctor more than abled people because your health can be unpredictable and you can run into more health issues. It can be hard to go to the doctor as a disabled person because many physicians do not understand complex disabilities and don’t listen to your concerns. They treat you like your the dumbest one in the room but what many doctors fail to forget is that you are the one living with the condition and we know more about our disabilities than we are ever given credit for because we have to. Patients may not be up on the recent science of our conditions but we are living with it and know our bodies better than any medical textbook so it’s only fair to at least consider what we are saying about our pain rather than just dismiss it. Some disabled people have to go to the doctor quite often to manage their conditions but it’s something a lot of people dread and don’t do unless they have to because disabled people often are not taken seriously. I have been blessed with a great medical team that listens to my concerns but not all disabled people have that and I long for the day when I see more disabled people getting better medical care! Are you a doctor or aspiring to be one? How do you make a positive impact on the disabled community when treating them?
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