I had my second appointment with a physiatrist (doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation) this past week, and I left his office blown away by how much of a difference it can make to have a doctor who actually listens.  

I’ve been on-and-off seeing doctors for a constellation of symptoms I guess for about three or four years.  I’ve left some doctors’ offices in tears or close to it, and left others feeling validated and listened to and somehow encouraged, even when the news might not be good.

It is a wonderful feeling to have a doctor, a clinical expert, listen to everything you have been experiencing and respond as though they 1) actually heard you, 2) actually believe you, and 3) want to actually help you get better. You wouldn’t think that would be such a high bar to pass, but it can be.

Honestly, I try not to be too hard on the doctors who come across a bit brusque. Doctors’ offices are getting more overcrowded with patients, their appointment times are getting shorter as they try to squeeze more people in, waiting lists are getting longer, dealing with insurance never gets easier, the mountain of paperwork they have to do just gets higher. Given all that, I imagine actually having a real interaction with a patient can be tough. Plus, my understanding is that most of their training doesn’t focus much on bedside manner.

But a good doctor, measured as including their bedside manner and demeanor as well as their general knowledge and experience and expertise, can be worth their weight in gold. I feel incredibly lucky to have found one who is on my side.

It was nice walking away from an appointment feeling like progress might have been made.