We had a wonderful discussion last week when Dr. Rupe wrote her brave post about home birth. After reading through the comments and thinking about the conversations I’ve personally had with women about this and similar subjects, I felt compelled to share my thoughts, as a patient, on trusting doctors and the medical community. I had no idea when I first thought to write this post that I’d have a recent, personal experience to add to the mix.
My almost 4 year old daughter broke her leg last week on a trampoline.
1 ambulance ride
2 emergency rooms
7 x-ray techs
2 IV insertions in my girl’s tiny hands
1 big, giant cast
and I still feel the same way I felt last week.
When my sweet child looked at me with fear and tears in her eyes, the only response I could muster was,
“We have to trust them sweetie. They know what they are doing.”
She kept crying, “No, don’t let them do that. It hurts.”
To which I gently replied, “Do you trust me?” “Yes,” she whispered. “Then you can trust them. Because I trust them.”
This experience took my level of trust to a whole new level. It’s one thing to trust a doctor or a nurse with my well-being. It’s entirely another thing to trust them with my child. But I did.
I have realized that our interaction with the medical community needs to be a gentle balance of trust and discernment. To me this means that I trust until I’m given a reason not to trust. Much like our legal system is built on the “innocent until proven guilty” value, we need to “trust until given a reason not to trust” our medical advocates.
After 24 hours with my daughter and all of these medical encounters, I was not given one, even slight reason to distrust the doctors or nurses or techs. Each one of them exemplified complete expertise and professionalism. Each one of them put my mother heart at ease.
It’s true that there are always exceptions. Perhaps someone is having a bad day. Perhaps your gut is telling you to go in a different direction than your medical professional is suggesting. These rare experiences should not be seen as the norm. They are exceptions.
“But I often find I disagree with my doctor,” you might say. Well then you need to ask yourself a tough question. Is your doctor really wrong or off the mark or do you have a larger issue with trust and perhaps even control?
If you are the type that likes to be in control of things (like me) or you have an issue with trust, it doesn’t mean you have to write off the medical community as a whole. What if you could find a doctor that is more conversational in talking through your medical options? What if you find one that better fits your personality? Wouldn’t a partnership with this type of physician benefit you?
Just like a doctor or nurse has a responsibility to professionalism, continuing education and bedside manner, we as patients have a responsibility to search out a physician we trust and with whom we are comfortable. Then, we have the responsibility to trust them. That doesn’t mean we cannot question, probe or disagree. It just means that we ultimately look at our relationship with them as a partnership.
I said a few times in The Pregnancy Companion book, “If you don’t trust your OB, then find a new one, quick!” This is not because I endorse doc hopping. I pray that all women find a doctor with whom they are completely comfortable. And I pray that you are able to partner completely with that physician to have the pregnancy and childbirth that you desire. If you have particular wishes, then discuss those with your provider. If you don’t believe they are hearing you or are supportive of your desires then you may need to seek out a new partner. But I would venture to guess that most doctors will be supportive of your desire for a particular type of birth or they will have very good, medical reasons for not supporting it. Be committed to hearing them out before you consider a switch.
As I sat in (more liked paced) our hospital room last week, I noticed a sign on the wall. “Parents. . .our partners in care.” It completely confirmed my feelings on this subject. We must all find that wonderful balance of personal conviction and trust when it comes to all things medical in our lives and the lives of our family. I am so thankful that the good Lord anoints and appoints medical experts to help us in our time of need but I am equally thankful that he’s given me holy spirit discernment to know how to respond to their advice. Hopefully, I will most often be in agreement with these partners. On the rare occasion that I am not, I pray he gives me the grace to speak up respectfully, with the goal of finding a solution together.
What are some ways you’ve partnered with your physician to find a solution that worked for you? Whether it’s regarding pregnancy, childbirth or the care of your child – we’d love to hear your stories!