Friday, September 12, 2008

Unusually Good Asthma Doctor

A little while ago, I went to get a new prescription for my asthma medication. While I was talking to the doctor about my prescription, I asked her about how to make sure to take my medication regularly, something I've had doctors get mad at me for not doing even though it's executive dysfunction that makes me go off my medication and I really can't help it (I thought I'd blogged about that before, but all I could find was this).
She didn't give me any advice on that (which is too bad because I have the same problem with antibiotics) but instead she told me that I actually don't need to stay on my asthma medication if I have no symptoms. I thought the daily puffer (Flovent) was a preventative and the one I take during an actual asthma attack (Salbutamol) was a fast-acting symptom relief one. Which is technically true, but it turns out they actually do different things, whereas I thought they did the same thing over different time ranges. Flovent apparently reduces swelling, while Salbutamol stops spasms. Anyway, it turns out if I'm off both medications and breathing just fine, I don't need to take them - even the Flovent - but if I'm having to take the Salbutamol (and therefore, clearly having symptoms) I also need daily Flovent. So my instinct that I kept fighting against to only take my medications when I feel sick is actually right in this case.
What I really like about this doctor is that, unlike every other doctor I've seen for pretty much any physical problem, she treated me like a knowledgable person, who not only needs to know what to do but also needs to know why. Exactly how I'd treat a patient if I became a doctor. I love being treated like I'm capable of understanding things.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Andrea said...

I know what you mean.

I had a psychiatrist once who explained medical side effects to me, in part, by showing me the relevant passage in her own guide to medications. Meaning, a book written for doctors, in very medical language. It was, to be honest, a little over my head, but I appreciated that she didn't dumb it down too much in the other direction either. And she did help me understand the more difficult points and answered my questions (like, "what's a half-life").

Some patients may genuinely NEED really simple explanations, due to things like more limited educational opportunity, or simply being too stressed and psychologically overwhelmed to take in anything complicated at that point. But even then, that doesn't mean you should dumb it down, just simplify the language a bit, explain more of the concepts, and allow more room for questions. Or if they're too overwhelmed, then give them the option of postponing the discussion.

5:22 PM  

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