Have a Personality : How to get a Rebellious Patient to Like You


I am a huge pain in the ass when it comes to being a patient.  I am a control freak, so naturally, having a chronic illness takes away some of that control, add in the doctors who seem like they are just dictating the remaining happiness in my life… and there’s me.  I’m that patient that the nurses adore and the doctor’s loathe.

In order to get the feeling like I have some sort of control over everything, I have a habit of researching each and every drug I take or procedure I have.  I don’t take medications that I don’t deem safe, or I don’t want to (unless my life depends on it), and I most certainly don’t undergo procedures if a second (third, fourth or whatever) opinion deems it not yet needed.

I’m that patient that the nurses remember because I argue the shit out of anything I don’t agree with, or straight up refuse if I haven’t researched it.  I’m the one who you can usually find the nurses and aides stopping in to say hi, and tell stories about things I’ve done, doctor’s I’ve pissed off, or “remember that one time you went AMA and threatened to sneak down the stairs??”.

My first GI doctor was legitimately a bitch though.  She really was.  Her name started with a W, so she was immediately re-named Dr. Wench.  After having peri-anal surgery, she decided that I had Celiac Disease when I first started getting sick.  8 months, 80lbs, and almost dying- later, I had started ER-hopping because whenever I called Dr. Wench, I was told “You must have some gluten somewhere in your diet, otherwise you wouldn’t be sick”.  By chance, in the ER of my now “home-hospital” I ended up with my last GI doctor.  Boom, Crohns Disease.

That first doctor did a number on me, because of her (lack of care) lack of research and refusal to listen to my symptoms, I missed the first year of my daughter’s life.  From there on out, I treated each doctor the same.  They were the enemy, they weren’t looking out for my best interest (which admittedly, some don’t), and there you have it… I became *that* patient.

I was a horrible patient with my last GI, whom I periodically graced with my presence through out almost 7 years.  He was great, by the end of our “relationship” he would even give me drugs to research and listen to me if I refused drugs (even if he didn’t agree).  I ended up switching to Entyvio, so with his lack of knowledge of it (it’s a spanking new drug people), I switched to his counterpart.  He was free of me, and I was nervously awaiting meeting my new GI.

At this moment in time, I’m writing from my hospital bed.  I’ll put up another post about the why’s later on, but yesterday and today, with some interaction with my doctors and a surgeon who’s minions know me by face, name and cat scan, made me have that “Eureka!” moment.  I finally figured out what makes me like a doctor (and why I’ve liked 90% of my nurses), what that little bit of something I’m always looking for is.

Show Your Personality!

Once I met my GI, I instantly warmed to him.  He listened, he laughed at my half-assed “You don’t know what you signed up for Doc, I’m not a good patient” comments, and he took the time to listen.  Score one for GI.  I had only seen him once in office, but was much more content already, so when I had to come in to the ER this time around, I was VERY comfortable talking to him and telling him everything I felt, both physically as well as my fears as to what my disease was doing and to what meds I would end up on.  He listened, re-assured, and promised to come back the next day.

Well, when he came in yesterday, I was pain killer free, and he had asked me about something I said the day before when I was all full of dilaudid.  I cracked some joke about not having any clue, and painkillers being my friend through puke-fest 2015.  Without blinking he cracked a smile and made fun of me for being all doped up when he came in.  I laughed, the boyfriend laughed, and he laughed.  We finished our chat/game plan, and I settled in for the night with that feeling that I was about to realize something… but couldn’t put my finger on it.

The surgeon (who I’m just going to refer to as “my surgeon”, because he’s been bugging me for a year or so now, so we all know he’ll be the one cutting parts out of my innards) came in today, again, he’s usually in my little hospital room every day I’m here… ever… with everyone of his PAs rushing to catch up.  I think he’s caught himself a cold or something, but regardless, he came in, admitted he had a long day, and literally flopped down in the “guest chair” with one leg over the arm rest.  For the first time since I was introduced to him, I had an honest to god conversation with the man, (and his little minions) and we came to an agreement about surgery (again, another blog).

As he left, that Eureka! moment hit and I finally realized why all of a sudden I wasn’t being such a pain in the ass.  After years of fighting every step of the way, all of a sudden I was agreeable to their recommendations (I still researched them though) and I actually enjoyed my conversations with them… I felt comforted by their opinions and recommendations instead of wary.  Both of my main doctors (now), my GI and my Surgeon, managed to show some personality to me.  Granted, one was because I think he was so physically exhausted he couldn’t stand up much longer, but still.  I got to see that they were people.  They were people, just like me.  People who get tired and just want to sit, people who can’t resist a “you’re high” joke or even better “like a good little patient” joke (I’ve never seen a nurse have to gag to hold back laughter before) (also 20+ points for getting that one out, that was 7 years in the making). I finally have doctors who inform me of my options, give their recommendations but let me have a bit of control with what happens with my life.

I think with nurses, they have always been trained to play a comforting, almost maternal/paternal role – if not a friend-like role, and by stepping into those tall boots, they naturally let a little bit more of their personalities flow out.  Which would explain why I haven’t had too many issues with nurses over the years.  It just feels good to have doctors that I feel like I can email with concerns or questions and know they’ll answer.  Look at that people, all it took was a little humor and a long day to make me actually like my docs again.

I’m sure there will be road bumps, as I’m still not a like-able person on most days, but hey, I’m finally getting somewhere.


2 thoughts on “Have a Personality : How to get a Rebellious Patient to Like You

  1. lifespaller

    Really good to hear you are getting a good team together. Particularly if you have surgeons hanging around. (My GI dr acts as if surgeons are spawn of the devil. Can’t wait to see how he responds when I do need one.)

    I wish there was a course for how to be a professional patient. I’m only just getting the hang of it and I’m really old. Congrats on working it out early.

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