I like the show House. Despite the fact that Dr. Gregory House is an abrasive, abusive, pompous ass, the medical geek in me just loves the tests and fancy diagnostic talk.
Dr. House is, at times, about as far from a naturopathic doctor as you can get. He dodges informed consent. He treats patients as fools and liars. Yet at other times, he’s a naturopathic genius of sorts, driving to find the root cause of a problem.
In the end, of course, he’s just Hugh Laurie, an actor. But the more I watch the show, the more I come to believe that there’s something be learned here, not so much by doctors, but by patients.
This little item showed up in the news last week, and has gotten quite a lot of chatter in social media. A woman believed she was having a stroke, but doctors didn’t believe her. Eventually, she recorded a video of her symptoms to help make the case.
The story here, though, isn’t that the doctors made a mistake—that happens all the time. The real story has two important lessons.
1. You Are The Resident Expert in YOU
The first takeaway is that in this case, the patient knew her condition better than her doctors. She was the expert.This is something we encounter regularly now. With a good internet connection, patients often know more about what is going on with them then their doctors do, and that’s something conventional medicine is still learning to embrace. Twenty years ago, there’s an excellent chance the patient would have had NO idea what the symptoms of a stroke even were. Thanks to the internet, and mainstream content like this TED talk, for example, some aspects of medicine are moving from rocket science to common knowledge.
Never forget that YOU are the authority in the symptoms you feel, and that what you learn about your body and health care has value.
2. You Need to Advocate for Yourself
More important than the fact that the woman in the video was able to accurately diagnose her own problem is the fact that she was able to advocate for her own health care.
Had she settled for the first opinion, and not continued to fight for what she believed, the story might have had a quite a different ending. Remember that you have the right to speak your opinion, to fight for care, and to be properly informed.
A Little More House at Home
ND’s have been celebrating the internet and its ability to engage and empower people from the beginning. The more a patient knows about themselves and their health challenges, the better. Much of medicine really isn’t rocket science. Unlike the very rare and unusual cases on TV, most things are pretty easy to figure out given some information and basic problem-solving.
To solve those rare and unusual health problems, we may need doctors to be more like House.
But for most health complaints? What we really need is for patients to be more like House. To be stubborn, confident, and committed to advocating for what they know best: themselves.