I have been to too many Dr’s since my auto accident of 2002. I have had my share of good and kind, helpful men of medicine. But then I also have had more than my fair share of mean and inhumane and insensitive medical and osteopathic physicians. I suffered a brain injury in that car accident and had to go into brain injury rehab for 3 years following. I have a terrible short term memory, when I once had memorized my full address book! I had a photographic memory in which I could look at something and study it as if studying for a test. Later I could recall that image in my mind. Now I can’t do either! My cerebellum is injured and will not get better. I love to write and as for reading, I have to read, re-read and re-read. I then get frustrated and go back to re-read again and then maybe even another time. Finally, I may retain the “idea” of something in a book or an article, but that’s as much as I can retain now for later recall. I am only telling you that because I do remember how awful I felt after leaving a shoulder orthopedic Dr’s office in 2003, after that MVA. I had been to visit several shoulder Doc’s by then…and knee Dr’s and heart Dr’s and so on. I had yet to visit the Cleveland clinic but that was to come later on. This shoulder Dr. said to me “What part of “I CAN’T HELP YOU, DONT YOU UNDERSTAND? Is it the brain injury or what?” Oh My Gosh! I was mortified as was his office staff. I left in tears with the man from the driving company, who transported me that day, also flabbergasted by this Dr’s words. That man was definitely NOT a Healer. I’ve had many more of those awful things happen to me in many different Dr’s offices. But I didn’t give up or lose hope. I kept going until I finally found someone to listen to me. Someone who didn’t want to blame everything on the abuse issues I suffer. I found a shoulder Dr. who sent me to the Cleveland clinic and they agreed with his diagnosis. They had thought they might do a “cadaver muscle / nerve transfer” surgery. But then they felt that I had too many other pain areas and that would be a huge, major surgery along with only fixing one small pain issue. I was sent back to the kind shoulder Dr. in Michigan, Dr. Jeff and he listened to me and touched my shoulder in a certain way. He knew right away that I had besides 2 torn rotator cuffs, a ruptured biceps tendon. It had ruptured a year earlier in that car accident but nobody would listen to me. I had so much pain and so many issues that I was “poo poo’ed” by many health professionals; until I finally found a great team that has been helping me. Dr Jeff did a surgery to detach the ruptured biceps tendon from the bone and reattach it with 2 screws. It fixed the nerve “zings” and though it was a painful surgery after 2 frozen shoulders/adhesive capsulitis for a year and 2 torn rotator cuffs. Soooooooo…….
I just happened to be on “LinkedIn” very very early today. I could not sleep. Something was drawing me to this place I hardly ever visit. I mean…I’m in pain…I am unable to work. I do what I can to try and help others and selfishly that makes me feel just a little bit better. I am in pain 24/7 and to others, I “look good”. People tell me that I “look fine” and that I “look young” and that does feel good. Though at times it makes me feel less cared about and less listened to. I feel judged sometimes and if I complain too much, people don’t want to be around me. Even if I don’t really complain at all, God forbid that I answer that question that just about everyone asks when they run into us someplace “How are you?” Well, my friends….you are damned if you answer that and damned if you don’t answer it. You may talk too long, too deep, or not enough. You just cannot please everyone so please …please yourself. Say what you need to say and to only those that you trust. No sense going into a long history of your issues with people who don’t care or who may try to hurt you with it later on, right? I mean, even those that we love or those that we hope love us back, they get tired too. I can’t say that I blame them as I grew up with an ill mother. She was in and out of the hospitals all of my life. The ambulances came into our house since I was a tot in the ‘onsie’ pJ’s, rubbing my eyes in the middle of the night when strangers with gurneys were taking my mommy away and telling me to “get out of the way”.
So this morning I was reading and I found this blog here on WordPress . It is called “Musings of The Distractible Mind” by Dr Rob Lamberts, LLC. It was an awesome article or post. I subscribed to his blog and now I want to share it with you. I give him all credits for this post as I have copied and pasted what he wrote for you to read because it’s awesome and I think it will help my readers. Mostly because many of my readers are chronic pain patients. Some with RSD/CRPS, like me; and others with various other pain issues and a wide range of medical problems. I admire this Dr’s writings and I am not copying his work as my own, only posting it here to share it with you because it’s awesome. I give you his name and the name of his blog and the name of this blog post. I pray that he is flattered, but if he does get upset, I will do whatever he wishes. I only hope that it will reach and help many people. Here is HIS blog post from July 2014:
Dr’s Are Not Healers
It’s a seductive idea. We doctors possess knowledge and experience which can not only help people, but can save their lives. We get opportunities to be the right person at the right time to offer the right help that makes all of the difference. It’s one of the greatest things about our profession. It’s also one of its greatest traps.
I’ve heard many doctors refer to themselves as “healers,” as if we have some special power to bring about healing in our patients. This idea confers some sort of a higher status and originates, to some, from a “higher calling” to a more noble life. Again, this is a logical step, in that we have opportunities on a regular basis to help and even save the lives of people. It’s natural to believe that somehow the healing power comes from our touch, or even from our knowledge.
It doesn’t. I am not a healer.
Healing is what the patient does, not the doctor. As a physician, I am certainly one who can help the patient find a faster road to healing, but I don’t heal. I help.
Why am I taking the time to talk about this? Why get stressed out over whether I am a helper or a healer? I think that the belief in doctors as healers causes significant harm to both doctors and patients, and that getting a better perspective about the roles of each will greatly improve the care given. Here’s why I believe this is a topic that needs addressing:
1. DOCTORS OFTEN FAIL AT HEALING (AND WILL ALWAYS ULTIMATELY FAIL)
There are many patient problems that do not get better, despite my best efforts. There are countless pains I can’t remove, and many problems I do not solve. Even when I succeed, the success is always temporary, as a new problem will eventually come back. And if healing is our ultimate goal as physicians, we all are total failures, as all of our patients eventually die. If healing is held as our goal, we fight a losing battle. We are the soldiers in the Alamo, offering impotent resistance to an overwhelming force.
If I believe in myself as a healer, I will face constant disappointment and defeat.
2. WHEN HEALING OCCURS, IT IS OFTEN INDEPENDENT OF DOCTORS
My patient may follow my advice and not get better, or may disregard what I say and recover from their problem. My direction is imprecise and imperfect, based on my knowledge and experience along with what I believe to be happening with the patient. But my experience and knowledge may not be right, and my interpretation of what is happening with the patient may be inaccurate. Healing is something that happens in the patient’s body. It’s when they get better, whether or not I am involved in the process.
Belief in myself as a healer is based on a falsely high opinion of my knowledge and abilities.
3. PATIENTS WHO SEE DOCTORS AS HEALERS WILL EXPECT TOO MUCH
I’ve seen it. I’ve heard people’s frustration when I’ve told them I can’t fix their problem or remove their pain. They feel like they shouldn’t have to hurt, or that if there is something wrong it’s because I’ve missed something. These are the folks who buy the “miracle” cures pandered by Dr. Oz and other profiteers. They hear the promises of health and wellness from the media and are disappointed when we can’t offer the same.
By believing I am a healer, my patients will eventually be frustrated and disappointed.
4. DOCTORS WHO TRY TO BE HEALERS DO HARM TO THEIR PATIENTS
The pressure to find the “magic bullet,” or the unifying diagnosis leads many doctors to practice bad medicine. This is a pressure we all feel when faced with the powerless feeling some patients bring. This leads to the ordering of unnecessary tests, performing of unnecessary procedures, and prescription of medications that should not be given. I believe this is what drives many doctors to overly-prescribe narcotic pain medications and other addictive drugs. We don’t want to stand helpless; we want to do something.
To protect my role as a healer, I am drawn away from my training and toward the task of finding a miracle. In doing this I can cause significant harm.
5. TO PROTECT THEIR STATUS AS HEALERS, DOCTORS WILL OPPOSE ANY OTHER PERCEIVED COMPETITION
Doctors in the past have been held with reverence by the general public. We possessed that “secret knowledge” that others didn’t have access to, knowledge that fueled our healing power. Now everyone has access not only to all of the knowledge we have, but also to others who offer alternatives. This causes many doctors to aggressively discourage patients to research their own problems and to attack alternative providers. In defending their turf, however, they are giving patients an ultimatum: us or them. More and more patients are choosing “them” because of this and are rejecting what we offer.
By clinging to our power as healers, doctors have greatly harmed people’s trust in our profession.
So what’s the alternative? Does it really make a difference what we call ourselves as long as we practice medicine? I think it does. Now that I’ve got time to choose the best way to practice, I’ve seen that there is a much better alternative to being a healer: being a helper.
Yeah, that sounds all dull and boring, I know, but it is not only more realistic, it is a much better way to practice medicine. Here’s why:
1. BY BEING A HELPER, I ALWAYS CAN SUCCEED
I may not be able to fix someone’s pain, but I can reduce it or can help them get through it. Every visit is an opportunity to help someone, and once I have helped them I’ve done something that can’t be taken away. I don’t have to see disease as a foe to be defeated, but as an opportunity to give to my patient from my experience and knowledge. Even when patients ultimately succumb to death, I have many opportunities to help them do so with peace.
2. BEING A HELPER KEEPS MY PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
I don’t have some crazy idea that I have special powers. I don’t believe that I’ve been “called” or “chosen” to do magic. I just help people. My focus isn’t on me (as if my care was not a performance), but on the person I am helping.
3. BEING A HELPER KEEPS EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC
If my patients see me as a helper, not a healer, they will listen to my advice with different ears. I am standing beside them, not above them. They are far more likely to listen to me when I am offering help, not pronouncing my wisdom.
4. HELPING MEANS DOING NO HARM
The temptation to offer more tests, more procedures, or dangerous drugs becomes much smaller when I take the role of helper over that of healer. I don’t see a need to prove myself, and will consider the harm of actions much more closely. I won’t over-prescribe pain medications because I will see how it harms my patients in the end.
5. BEING A HELPER LETS ME EXIST IN THE INFORMATION AGE
Like it or not, I am compared to the homeopaths, the herbalists, the chiropractors, and the doctors on TV. When people embrace alternatives to the care I give, they are not necessarily rejecting me; they are seeking what they are when they come to me: to feel better and to lessen their fears about the future. If the help I offer is held next to the miracles promised by others, I think I will win. If patients are helped by others, though, then I should be glad for my patients, not upset about the success of my “rivals.”
We call what we do “health care,” which implies a relationship built for the sake of a person’s health. I believe the best way to accomplish this is to have a realistic view of who we are and what we do. I am not a healer. When I try to be one, I always fail and am always disappointed. I am a helper, and in taking that role I can always have opportunities to succeed.