What if Doctors Had Chronic Illnesses?

Colin T. Son


April 03, 2009

It is difficult to comprehend fighting a disease caused by your own body. Autoimmune disorders are even more heartrending for their prevalence in the relatively young.

Leslie Rott is a young woman dealing with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. At her blog, Getting Closer to Myself, she writes about her struggles with chronic illness and with the people she relies on for medical care. She frequently offers advice to both patients and healthcare providers on how they could work together better.

Getting Closer to Myself hosts Grand Rounds
April 7, 2009


In one slightly frustrated post, Leslie wonders what it would be like if all physicians had to live with chronic illness:

In some ways, I almost wish that at some point, all doctors could experience this.

Unfortunately, I guess I've gotten so used to being sick, that I forget that people can potentially go their entire lives without having a major health crisis... [I]t definitely makes me wonder how many doctors have actually experienced what it is like to be a patient, especially in a long-term scenario.

I wonder: Do doctors get better care than we "non-physician" patients do? Are doctors bad patients or do they actually comply with the orders they are given by their own doctors?

It's difficult for me to imagine how things would look if the situation was reversed and doctors became patients, but I can only imagine that it would give a whole new meaning to compassionate care.

This is not to say that Leslie Rott's blog is simply a critique of the healthcare system. Indeed, for every instance in which she discusses what healthcare providers could do better, she also advises patients on how they can help improve their own care:

  • Ask questions of your doctor. "Sweat the small stuff." In other words, don't lay low. "Speak up!"

  • Know your family history.

  • The pharmacist is a great resource for medical information.

  • Appoint a health advocate.

  • Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.

Be skeptical about and cautious of alternative medicine therapies and remedies. That doesn't mean you shouldn't utilize them, just always make sure to consult your doctor in order to avoid any interactions with medications you are already taking.

Effective communication becomes especially important as Getting Closer to Myself hosts Grand Rounds on April 7, 2009. Grand Rounds showcases some of the best posts by medical bloggers from the previous week. It is hosted by a different blogger each week, offering visitors a new experience each time. Check it out to sample a variety of offerings from the medical blogosphere.


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