I like ranting. Here’s a rant.
Took my father to his doctor’s appointment, had to prevent a physical fight between them, walked out with nothing to gain and nothing to lose.
It started when the doctor asked him “what medications are you on? You say you’re taking four, but there’s five listed here, so which one aren’t you on?”
Obviously, my father can’t remember, he has short term memory loss. He asked the doctor to simply list all of the medications, and we’d tell him which one was the one he wasn’t on anymore.
The doctor said the first medication. Asked him if he was on it. My father asked him again to just list all of the medications. The doctor said the second medication. Asked him if he was on it.
The tension in the room expanded, so much it was squishing me against the fucking wall. My eyes were popping out of my head, that’s how powerful the tension was. Finally the doctor got up, got a printed copy, and we told him which medication he wasn’t on.
Then he assumed my father was still drinking daily. My father hasn’t had a drink in almost a year now. He told him drinking didn’t help his high blood pressure. He told him smoking didn’t either–all these things someone with an addiction knows. My father told him he knew that. The doctor kept pressing his advice. He also kept saying “I’m just paid to give advice man, you can listen to it or not”.
At one point, to scare my father, he said “You’re more likely at this point to die from a stroke than a heart attack.”
He said “We have two options. Either we add another medication to see if we can help your blood pressure, or we start to work on life changes”.
My father said “no medication”.
The doctor said “well, then let’s start by quitting the sauce”. (i.e, drinking).
Because that’s something someone wants to hear when they are obviously agitated, frustrated with their health problems, and not feeling like they’re getting the help they want. This shit continued. At one point I had to step in, because they were getting heated. The doctor wasn’t listening to my father and my father wouldn’t listen to him. At one point the doctor went to listen to his lungs and my father basically blew air hard in his face and got ready to hit him. I asked what was fueling his defensiveness, that something was going on (even though I already knew what) and my father gestured to the doctor angrily. He said he didn’t like his attitude and the way he was “stepping” to him.
I said “You’re feeling attacked.”
He said, “No, it’s not that, I’m not being listened to”.
The doctor said “well I am feeling attacked and I’m going to say I don’t want to see you anymore.”
That was the end of the appointment.
I have blamed my father for a lot of his doctor appointments going awry. And I am positive had I not just participated in Motivational Interviewing, I would have blamed him for this too.
Oh I was angry. I was so pissed off. So I removed myself and I thought for a moment and I went over it and on the way home my father and I had a very good conversation without one argument–that’s the first time, by the way. I didn’t blame him, I didn’t judge him, and I didn’t blame the doctor or judge the doctor either.
I used to think my father just hated doctors because he didn’t believe he had health problems. I thought he hated doctors because they were in an authority position. It’s odd I never thought to have a conversation around what he really felt towards them. He said he felt the guy was 1) telling him things he already knew 2) preaching too much 3) saying “it’s how I say it is (or how the medical team says it is), or it’s nothing at all” 4) not listening.
What made me realize I have been judging him for quite some time now was when I said “you weren’t getting the kind of help you really wanted” and he said “No. And I want help, I know I need to see a doctor, I know I need to get this under control. But I need someone who is going to listen and take time to understand”.
And that said a lot to me. Because I thought he was always in denial. He’s not in denial. That’s what I get for thinking instead of conversating.
It wasn’t really a matter of either person being in the wrong. But it would have made a difference had the doctor took a moment, stepped away from his “role” for a moment, and said, “I’m sensing a lot of discomfort/hostility/agitation/e.t.c; tell me about it.”
When we got home, my father said the same thing. He said “all he had to say was ‘hey man, let’s take a moment here because you’re really agitated, what’s going on?”.
My father got his G.E.D when he was in his thirties. He’s went to jail for a year on a robbery charge he didn’t do. He was stabbed 6 times in the back by a group of people, he’s done every drug except heroin, the mother of his first child (NOT ME) refused to let him see the child so he slit his wrists, he’s had a heart attack, multiple, multiple seizures, he was raised with 6 brothers and 1 sister, one of his brothers got murdered, he didn’t meet his father until he was 21 and his father passed from alcoholism at 56, his childhood wasn’t much of a childhood (abuse disguised as “discipline”) and I was raised how he was raised.
He has no college degrees, struggles reading and spelling, couldn’t do math to save his life, and isn’t very connected to the modern era. But it took him five seconds to realize all that doctor needed to do was take a moment, reflect some feelings, and connect on a human level.
I stand by the argument I’ve always had: having a medical degree, or college degree, means nothing. It’s how you use it.