Recently, I took part in a Twitter Q&A about how Chronic Illness patients interact with their doctors. It’s something I’d never really given much thought to. I realized that I’ve learned some things along this journey with Crohn’s disease that I hope to share with other patients of chronic illness. Below is Part 2, click here to read Part 1.
Part 2: What I Wish my Conversations With my Specialist Could be Like Now.
A few months ago I had an appointment with my Gastroenterologist (GI), where, among other things, I asked him what he thought about using marijuana as a treatment for Crohn’s disease. Marijuana has been legal in my state for a couple years now, so it wasn’t like I was just looking for a way to get high, I can do that legally if I want (though, for the record, I do not). It’s not about the high, it’s about the possible healing effects that I was interested in. (Which is why I eventually looked into CBD oil. You can check out my guest post on CBD here).
He immediately made me feel like an idiot for asking and poo-pooed the idea that marijuana can be helpful to people with Crohn’s disease. In fact, he stated that he had never seen any evidence that marijuana can help Crohn’s disease. Which was surprising since, even without doing any real research, I’d heard that people with Crohn’s disease were getting medical marijuana cards way before marijuana became legal in our state. If you’re interested, here’s an article from Everyday Health that discusses medical marijuana for treating Crohn’s disease.
What I Wish My Doctor Had Said to Me
I’m sure he didn’t mean to make me feel like an idiot and frankly, I allowed him to make me feel that way. However, this situation could have been handled so very differently. Even if his preconceptions about marijuana weren’t obviously bad, what I wish he’d done is; 1. Ask me a few follow-up questions about my motivations for wanting to look into marijuana as a treatment for Crohn’s disease. 2. Offer to look into it for me. 3. Actually look into it and get back to me. 4. Refer me to another specialist or doctor who might have genuine information about it. Anything other than complete dismissal would have been nice.
Where Do We Go From Here?
This is just one example of how I wish conversations with my specialist could be better. The above suggestions to improve the conversation, however, can be applied to just about any doctor-patient conversation. I am constantly trying to find other therapies that might work to help heal my gut. I’m sure I’m not the only patient who seeks answers to their questions about their own illness. So I’m probably not the only patient who brings seemingly unusual ideas up to their doctors!
As I stated in Part 1, my hope is that these articles, if read by doctors, are taken as suggestions for having productive conversations with their patients. These types of conversations can lead to really great doctor-patient relationships, which I certainly hope is what all doctors want!
As always, I’d love to hear your comments or questions on this subject. You can leave a comment below, or email me here.