A genetic resistance to Novocain and a couple of dismissive dentists made me one of those crazy fearful people. I knew it was irrational, I knew my teeth would only get worse. But those of us that have been there know there are few things more horrible than sitting helplessly in that chair while ones teeth are being drilled and it hurts and the dentist thinks you are just an “anxious patient”.
I was in my early 20’s when, in a moment of brilliance, my father said this:
“You are an adult. You are the client. The dentist cannot touch you without your consent. If you are uncomfortable with your treatment, you get up out of the chair and walk out the door.”
Is that allowed? I thought.
Of course it is allowed. Easier said than done, though. In the end, I found a dentist about my own age (so as to avoid any subconscious subservience to the patriarchy) who was very patient in explaining exactly what we were doing, how long it would take and never starting work until I was absolutely ready. He specifically said that a second shot of Novocain was a perfectly reasonable request. Sometimes I need it and sometimes I don’t.
Yesterday, I was talking with a co-worker – say in her mid-20s. She has bronchitis and was literally coughing up blood before she went to the doctor. She said that she has asthma and hadn’t been taking the preventative treatment her doctor prescribed because it made her feel worse. Then she said that she told her doctor she was taking it.
“Dude.” I said, using my stern HR voice. “Lying to your doctor is not cool.”
She hesitated for a minute. I think it was my tone of voice which wasn’t my most pleasant. She said that she knew it, but the doctor didn’t listen when she told him she didn’t like the drug. He and the nurse both said she had to give it more time. Maybe they were right, but it didn’t feel right to her.
After the call, I decided that I had just made it worse. Poor girl is feeling sick, and I understand asthma to be a pretty damn scary disease anyway. My point hadn’t been about the treatment, it had been about lying to the doctor. So I called her back and gave her my dad’s speech. Then I said, “And if you still feel uncomfortable, you call me back and I will help you find a new doctor.”
I hope she felt better. I hope she feels empowered to take control of her own health. Because seriously, people. It is an important, and expensive service that doctors provide. Don’t stay with one that doesn’t listen to you, doesn’t hear you, and doesn’t include you in making decisions about your health. And for the love of all that’s Holy, do not stay with one that makes you feel worse.
You are the client. And there are plenty of doctors out there (assuming you have the insurance, but that is a different rant).