Go see your doctor when you’re well
What a novel idea! Go see your doctor when you’re well? Why would you do that?
We usually only go to the doctors when something is wrong. Makes sense, right? I mean they’re there to make us better aren’t they?
Let’s think about it differently. We go to our doctor or specialists every time something goes wrong. They only ever see us when our bodies are malfunctioning. Have you ever thought about the fact that your doctor has never seen you on a good day? That’s a bit strange right? I mean how do they know what we’re aiming for in wellness if they’ve never seen us well? How do they know what you’re like on a good day?
If you’re anything like me, you only go to the doctors when something is really wrong. And when something is really wrong you’re often not able to communicate effectively. There are lots of broken sentences; possibly tears, emotions are running high, pain levels are high. I know I don’t think clearly in these situations. Generally, we are not ourselves in under these conditions. We can easily be mistaken for someone who is overly emotional, someone without resilience or lacking coping skills. Let’s be honest: you can come across as a real hot mess.
Unfortunately, if the doctor hasn’t known you for very long, or they have never seen you coping or functioning well, they can jump to the conclusion that you’re not able to do this any of the time, when in reality you manage pretty well most days.
By only seeing you when you’re unwell or in pain, your doctor gets a skewed view of who you are and what you’re capable of dealing with. That is why I firmly believe that we should go to the doctors at least once a year when we are doing well; feeling well; coping well. By allowing them to see us on better days, they can more fully understand the impact of our condition and how bad our bad days really are. It’s like that idea that we wouldn’t know what light was without darkness. If they don’t see the good days they can’t comprehend just how bad the bad days really are.
By allowing them to see us on better days, they can more fully understand the impact of our condition and how bad our bad days really are. Click To Tweet
So let them see the good days. Don’t cancel your appointment just because you’re feeling well or the symptoms have gone away. Make sure your doctor understands that this is what a good day looks like for you. This is what you’re aiming for on those bad days, those days when the pain is all-consuming, or you can barely get out of bed. When they have something to compare your bad days with they are (hopefully) going to understand and be more compassionate towards you. Without seeing you on good days and bad days, all your health care provider has to go on are your words.
People are often put out by reports from medical professionals that state the “patient looked well” or “presented well”. This saying often comes about when doctors have nothing with which to contrast that presentation. You may look better today than you did on your last bad day but that still doesn’t make it a good day.
So do yourself a favour and make sure you keep an appointment with your doctor on one of those possibly rare “good days”, or “well days”. Go to see your doctor when you’re well. It may feel like a waste of money & time but I can assure you that it will help your doctor get to know you better, and by knowing you better they will be able to help you in more effective ways.
If nothing else, they will see the dark and light; they will see the contrast between severe pain and less severe pain; they will see the difference between coping and not coping.
Let them see both sides of you; both sides of your life. Your light and your dark. And see where it takes you.
Do you go to see your doctor when you’re well? Do you feel weird about that? Share with us your experiences!
Michelle is a Senior Occupational Therapist working with people with hypermobility and rheumatological conditions (like arthritis). Michelle is the owner of Hypermobility Connect, an online platform for people with hypermobility to connect with resources, health professionals & each other. Michelle practices OT in her private practice, Rheumi Occupational Therapy