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Some Thoughts on Medicine

Tom Galli

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Cancer patients get a unique appreciation and understanding of the medical profession by the very nature of our disease. At the minimum, we interact with our GP, Oncologist or Radiologist, and a brace of medical testing and treatment nurses and technicians. This experience base gives us a lot of insight into the profession. Here is a synthesis of the insight I've accumulated over the years.

Never go to a diagnostic "results revealed" medical consultation alone.

If you don't understand the words the doctor uses, ask them to re-explain without the "medical/techno-speak."

Tell the doctor your special circumstances or medical needs before hospitalization or infusion treatment. Ask these be captured in the admitting orders. Ask to see the admitting orders at admission or before first procedures. Don't get admitted if the order does not cover your special circumstance.

Most procedures can be painless or discomfort can be minimized but you need to ask for relief before the procedure. For example, ask for a lidocaine injection before IV insertion or for Xanax to reduce anxiety during scans. These are examples of special circumstances that should be discussed with the ordering doctor at the time he orders the procedure. Don't be afraid to complain. Be kind at first but if the situation is not resolved to your satisfaction, add anger. Remember, you are paying for all this and you are a customer as well as a patient.

People in the medical profession are like people in any profession. Some are good and some are not so good. The difference is medical professionals have unique authority and special powers that say a consulting engineer or a lawyer will not have. To get prospective on a new medical professional, pay attention to how he or she interacts with the office or clinical staff. They won't treat you any better than the people they work with every day.

The best doctors treat people, not patients. Try and find ways to remind them you are a person. Tell them you are afraid or uncertain, for example, to help them recall they are dealing with a human being. I always find a way to ask if they pray before a procedure.

Most medical professionals, unless also cancer survivors, won't have any idea how or what you are feeling. Tell them before, during and after a procedure.












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Well said!!


I tend to make sure that when I see the doctor before the surgery or procedure I ask them how THEY are feeling/doing!! Did they sleep well? All the kids are doing well? Wife/Hubby is happy? LOL!! It sounds a bit like what you said. At the very least I get a giggle out of them and that is MY way of reminding them that I am a person, parent, spouse, pet owner or whatever else I want them to think of me as when they open me up and I suddenly look like any photo from a text book or slide show.


​Always looking for a smile or a giggle! :-)

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