Thursday, October 1, 2009

Semantics and Complaints

When doctors write down your symptoms, they list them as "complaints."

They write in their reports: "patient complains of .... "

Yet, as I noted in the last post here, most of us were conditioned by our parents and teachers not to complain.

"Complain" has such a negative connotation. It conjures up whining little kids, crying because big brother took her lollipop!

"Buck up!" "Cowboy up!" I've heard some people say, "Put on your big-girl panties!"

Which is all well and good, serves some useful purposes, I know. But when you are in deep, chronic pain, the kind that emanates from the spinal cord, you perhaps can "buck up, little buckaroo" at home, among your family and friends, but when you are with your doctor, you need to present those "complaints."

I always take a detailed symptom list to a new doctor. I save it on my computer, as well. Since I've been dealing so long with this now, it has proven valuable, as I've been able to tell a doctor, "Look, I reported this swallowing problem five years ago!" (Time does go by fast when you're having fun, they say.)

So....what does a doctor think when he hears the word, "complaint."

He was probably raised the same way we were. And when a patient presents a list of symptoms or tells of a problem, does this doctor instinctively judge the patient before him or her, remembering their own upbringing, perhaps a teacher telling them to stop crying and go back onto the playground and push that bully back?

Does he or she care enough to battle those instincts?

There's a book out called "How Doctors Think" or something like that. I need to get that book. I have a feeling this issue might be in it.

Up north, the old cowboys have a saying.

A horse might run into the corral with the rest of the remuda, but she is limping and presenting with a gaping, bleeding wound.

The crusty, old-timers will often say, "'s a long way from 'er heart!"

Meaning, it's a simple thing not worthy of worrying about. It won't kill her ( how often they've been proved wrong is not known, however).

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