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Sunday, January 24, 2010

I was a good patient: Patient-doctor relationship

Nurse Practitioner Richard Ferris' story:

I am so damn tired of this...I am not my f----ing T cell count or viral load level and I wish to hell people would stop treating me like I am. It is degrading, and worse yet, it puts up roadblocks to communication between friends, medical providers, and the rest of the damn world.

I have been practicing AIDS medicine since the beginning of the epidemic. Today is very different and as a clinician I am a much happier man because of the advances in HIV therapy, but we have become a community that is still fixated on clinical numbers and not the person sitting in front of us and this had got to stop.

I recently felt compelled to change my AIDS doc because all I was a bunch of numbers to her. I was the "good" patient." She knew I took care of myself, was sober, worked out, and was nearly perfect with sticking to my meds. So I got the "greet them, treat them and, street them" kind of medical care all clinicians fall into now and then on a regular basis. So after numerous attempts of talking with her about my care concerns and not seeing things change I said the short version of the Serenity Prayer, which is "F--- it!", and found another provider who is wonderful. She treats me like a real person. I am a real person! She asks what is going on in my life and my numbers, while still important, are not the heart and soul of every visit.

I have had several other medical conditions overlooked because of my being a "good patient" that I had to handle myself. But I am lucky because I am an AIDS certified Nurse Practitioner and knew how to get the help I needed. What about the average person with HIV/AIDS without that sort of background? What happens to them? I assume they fall through the clinical cracks and suffer.

Maybe that is the lesson here: NEVER BE A GOOD PATIENT!

Read another story about an HIV patient who’s very aware of the relationship with his doctor.

Thanks to Richard for his post, at Richard’s POZ blog.

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