Recently, a friend of mine visited her dermatologist, and left the office with one less freckle. I asked her why it was removed and she simply shrugged. “I wanted to ask, but it all happened so fast!” she told me.
I completely understand how she feels, as there are plenty of times that I have left the doctor’s office kicking myself for not asking any questions about what I was told – including a few years ago when I had a mysterious freckle of my own removed.
Why is it that we are so afraid to ask questions when we are in the doctor’s office? Is it because we’re afraid to hear the answers, or is it because we don’t want to waste our doctor’s time with something we deem trivial? For some, it could simply be because they find their doctor intimidating. It’s almost like those moments three hours after an insult when you finally come up with a witty retort. However, in that instance your pride may have been hurt, but not your health.
A recent study from the University of North Carolina found that women with early stage breast cancer have not been properly informed of their options in terms of surgery and treatment. While the article seems to put a fair amount of blame on the doctors, I have to wonder if part of the fault should fall on the patient.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is much more stressful than your regular doctor’s visit, and though most doctors will try to provide you with as much information as possible, there will still be questions remaining. Though some would like to leave the decision-making in the hands of the doctor, it is important to remember that the ultimate decision as to how to move forward should come from the patient.
I am certainly one of those people who blindly trust whatever doctors say, so moving forward I will attempt to follow my own advice. Regardless of how small or insignificant you may think your question is, don’t ever be afraid to ask! Also, if you leave the doctor’s office and realize that you have a million more questions, you have every right to phone your doctor the next day and ask. Some doctors even allow email correspondence, but that’s a whole different story.
Whether you are discussing the numerous options available for cancer treatment or simply concerned about a joint that feels a little stiff, never be afraid to ask a question! You never know, your questions might lead to answers that could help the doctor get a firmer grasp on what is actually ailing you.