What’s Up Doc? Ask the Question

What’s Up Doc? Ask the Question

I spoke to a client of mine whose wife had gone into labour, produced a long-awaited baby boy and was suffering pain health professionalwhilst being stitched in an intimate place.

The client asked my opinion about this – surely it shouldn’t have hurt her so much after the local anaesthetic the midwife had used?  Yet his wife said the stitching was more painful than the actual birth itself and quite spoilt the special joy of seeing her beautiful baby.

My client wanted to ask the midwife if perhaps the local anaesthetic had chance to work because she was in so much pain?  But, he didn’t and the midwife continued with the stitching…  and poor mum lay and bit her lip.  She had not been prepared by antennal classes for this.

Is this Treatment Correct?

Many friends and family ask me questions about an aspect of their treatment.

Questions like –  is this right?  Can I have a second opinion?  What can I do if I don’t get on with my doctor?   Oh, I didn’t want to be a bother?  Am I being a baby?  I didn’t like to ask.  I’m sure he would tell me if there were other treatments… Do these resonate with you?

It does with me. I take myself back many years ago when my 6-year-old son visited the dentist.  He was to have a tooth out and the dentist instructed my son to raise his right arm if he was in pain during the process and he would stop pulling the tooth immediately.  I sat by wishing I could take my son’s place and smiling encouragingly as the dentist delved in with the pliers.  My son sat quietly until his body stiffened and he raised his right arm tentatively.  The dentist ignored the arm and continued to tug away regardless – my son’s arm went higher and higher, to no avail.  A few seconds later the Dentist held aloft the offending molar and showed it to me with some pride.  What did I do?  I congratulated him on a good job – with my son in tears and a lifelong fear of dentists instilled.

If You have a Question – Ask it

What I should have done, was to take the dentist to task and stood up for my son’s rights.  But because he was a medical professional, I bowed to the superior knowledge and disregarded concern for my son.  But I regret that now.  Not just for me and my son but because of other mums and sons (dads and daughters) who followed me into that dentist’s office.

That story shows how much we value the medical profession and it’s not getting any better.  Even now I see family members afraid to call a doctor, of being seen as a nuisance or a wimp, having carrier bags full of medications that don’t need, not understanding the basics of caring for themselves, afraid to call for an ambulance or ask for help, yet some are seriously ill.

Do Not Be Afraid

I think the problem lies in how we all view health professionals in the UK.  We admire how health professionals dedication and how they save people’s lives, always busy and somehow elite. I believe we all have a fundamental fear of being excluded from the safety umbrella of the NHS protection or possible repercussions from other health problems in the future.

Do not rock the boat.  Do not demand too much.  Imagine asking for help from a health professional who you had annoyed?  Too horrible to contemplate – we need to trust our health professionals not alienate them!

Challenge the Doctor or the Nurse

And now I am a health professional myself. I say, please challenge everything you don’t understand, ask for explanations, ask about the likely outcomes for a procedure, ask for a second opinion, research on the internet, read the medication sheet, protect the one’s you love. Because when you are sick or in pain, the fear and vulnerability makes it difficult to be assertive.

Trust your own instincts and ask the question of the health professional – for an explanation or at least acknowledgement of your presence.

Do not treat a health professional differently from any other person offering you a service. Remember to ask questions about your fears before going ahead with any treatment or operation.  As health professionals, we sometimes forget that people need to know what we are doing and why and need to be reminded to explain or listen to the patient even if we are busy.

And the stitching by the midwife – much too soon, the anaesthetic needed 5 – 10 minutes to take effect.  Imagine!

For up to date health advice go to NHS Choices website

Reviewed Jan 19

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