Thursday, February 21, 2008

Failure to Communicate

Wife recently had to get treated for an overwhelming sickness that she couldn’t ignore anymore. Almost 2 months had gone by with her having various URI and a constant shortness of breath or tightness in her chest. These feelings were more marked with cold air, exercise, and exposure to cigarette smoke.

Diagnosis? Asthma with complications related to non-treatment.

Easy enough to see.

But she didn’t believe me, as she’s wont to do, and a few times I got upset and would castigate her for complaining. After all, coughing constantly and complaining about feeling tired/ ill when you could get better from an inhaler just began to wear on me (even more is the idea that she didn’t think I was correct – but that’s a different post).

So the other day, after she developed some night sweats, productive cough, fever, and chills I forced her to go and see a physician. Ironically she couldn’t get in that day and instead went to a retail clinic. I wasn’t with her as I had an obligation to get through in order to graduate (more on that in another post) and only found out about her treatment later.

The NP was very nice, from what Wife says, but it was clear to me that she was a little overwhelmed by Wife’s symptoms. She gave her an antibiotic, an inhaler, and cough suppressants stronger than the OTC variety. I didn’t agree with some of what was done – like giving a very strong antibiotic normally reserved for hospitalized patients or those with community acquired pneumonia, or the suggestion that she go to the ER to “maximize her breathing”, but at least something was accomplished. I was glad to hear that the NP took her time to explain things out to Wife and even told her that she felt she was incredibly sick.

What was funny to me, however, was that Wife was told almost the exact same things that I had for months told her about her asthma. She didn’t want to believe she had it and refused to go to a doctor and “waste her money while they guess”. I find it ironic that a lot of what I try to champion in others and get heated about on this blog has not been instilled into Wife. Somewhere she’s lost her faith in medicine, despite being exposed to it more than ever, and doesn’t trust doctors. Gotta work on that.


Old MD Girl said...

Sometimes I wonder whether the fact that *I* don't trust doctors had anything to do with my career choice. I'm still trying to get over it, but haven't seen much evidence yet that I should.

M said...

I hope your wife's treatment works out. Perhaps wasn't a matter of faith in your abilities (or Medicine, for that matter) which caused some skepticism on her part-- there is something reassuring about a diagnosis from an objective third party.

"Somewhere she’s lost her faith in medicine, despite being exposed to it more than ever, and doesn’t trust doctors. Gotta work on that."

I recently dug into 'Becoming a Doctor' after seeing it on so many med student's "Favourite Books" lists and coincidentally running into it at a bookstore.

It's a real eye opener.

MedStudentGod (MSG) said...


Interesting that you'd comment about 'Becoming a Doctor'. That was a book I bought a year before med school and recently read it again while on interview plane trips. It's an interesting read - though sometimes a little too sensitive. I don't think it's that bad anymore (b/c q2 call on a regular basis is not done that much) but it is accurate about the mentality that's developed in students and residents.

Ambrose said...

For my part one and all have to go through this.
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Isaiah said...

It cannot succeed as a matter of fact, that's what I suppose.
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