Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Big Gap in Treatment for All

Someone said something the other day that hit a nerve for me. 'How well do you think the emotional needs of patients are met?' And I started thinking.

When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, my emotional needs were not mentioned. At all. When I first destroyed my knee skiing, no mention was made of the changes I faced in my life. That was when I first needed to give up some of my favorite sports - skiing was never the same again. When I had hysterectomy, I was given the advice by friends to go to to answer a lot of emotional questions and the long term impact of the surgery. I do not think my doctor gave me any advice. I mean I may have been given a pamphlet but that was it.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was definitely given a folder of information on resources - support groups, lymphedema, hair loss, Look Good, Feel Better programs. But I was the one who said I am going to a support group, asked for a therapist, and all that. My emotional needs were sometimes asked about but I felt I was the one raising the issue of how I was coping.

When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, my emotional needs were not mentioned. these diagnoses are not minor, they are pretty much life changing. And doctors didn't think my emotions were an issue.

No matter what the doctor tells you, how often do they stop and ask you how you are doing emotionally? Somethings are minor - you get the flu, sprain your wrist, etc - you will heal and go back to normal. But after a diagnosis of RA, MS, fibromyalgia, heart attack, stroke, or anything else with a significant long term impact on your health that will change you forever, shouldn't the doctor and the rest of your medical team consider your emotional health as much as your physical health?

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