This is going to date me, but years ago there was a book called "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus."
In this book, it discussed the different ways each gender communicates and how that causes problems.
I believe these differences affect how we are treated by doctors.
DH has pointed out that I get way too detailed about things. For example, yesterday I was later than usual getting home from work. Instead of just saying, "Traffic was bad. I stopped at the store and ran into an old friend I went to high school with," I went into this long story about how I hadn't seen Alice since my class reunion... You get the idea.
That got me to thinking. Have you ever been in a meeting where yes, it was important, but the discussion went on and on and on and ended up going off into other directions and your eyes started glazing over?
Most doctors and neurologists are men. Also, their time is limited. So, if we go in there and go over every single time we've had a tingle or zap, their eyes are going to glaze over too.
I am NOT saying we shouldn't track our symptoms or ask questions. What I am saying is, perhaps we should take a cue from the men out there and be short, concise, and to the point. Be direct. Be confident.
Guys out there, how do you handle your doctor's appointments? Those of you who are diagnosed, when you were going through the diagnostic phase, how did you talk to your doctors? Any advice you can give to us ladies?
I hope this doesn't offend anyone. I really think the gentlemen of the forum can offer us ladies some valuable information. I want to make the most out of my visit to the MS specialist coming up on March 27, and I don't want his "eyes to glaze over."
Thank you very much for reading and thank you in advance to those who reply,
I have been studying personalities and I have worked with doctors and nurses. Bedside manner is mostly determined by personality. I like the personality test called Hartman color code personality test. It's not overly complicated. Many doctors are "reds," which means they may be brilliant and efficient, but they are often impatient and just want to get to the problem and get it fixed. They like patients who can give the pertinent symptoms and dates and drugs tried and medication history efficiently. They dread the patients that want to spend 2 hours talking things that have nothing to do with the problem. However, not everybody knows what is and isn't pertinent! It's easier if you get a "blue" caregiver type who finds it easy to spend more time and listen and more of a kinder, gentler personality. Yellow personalities are less likely to be doctors because they are more focused on the moment and struggle with patience for long-term goals, and white personalities tend to be better in the laboratory or reading x-rays, something that doesn't tax them with too much human interaction. I believe we are born with our personalities and we either learn to cope with the other personalities to be successful or we find an occupation that keeps us in our comfort zone.
I'm glad you've raised this point as its something I've also pondered. Since I don't want to 'bore' the neurologist with what's going on, I'm currently thinking that I'll just hand him my fairly concise diary when I see him. Another reason I intended to do it this way is that my brain gets fairly muddled these days and I'm scared I'll forget to tell him something important too. I had the thought that if I've already written everything down, he won't need to waste time doing this, he can just ask for clarification of bits he needs to and the appointment will be more productive.
I don't care so much about bedside manner as I do someone who will work with me to find out what is wrong.
I absolutely hate spending time off from work and money on appointments. Granted, I haven't been going through the diagnostic process very long, only about 7 months.
It seems to me that men in general are taken more seriously as patients. I'm not saying it is necessarily deliberate. Since women primarily are the ones who have MS and things like Lupus, I see where they go to the doctor and end up with a pat on the head and being told they are stressed, or worse, have a conversion disorder. This may be true for a few, but good grief, that many?
I do have test results that support a lot of my symptoms and thankfully so far I am being taken seriously. Yet, my pcp had referred me to an MS specialist right away and I believe he thought I was just a waste of his time. He only spent about ten minutes with me and said my symptoms (which included doubl/blurry vision, numbness in my right arm and hand, and numbness in my right leg as well as that leg "giving out" on me) were from lack of sleep and carpal tunnel (no explanation for the vision except age... I was46 at the time.
I did not receive a neurological exam, and for my "lack of sleep" was told to take a muscle relaxer at bedtime.
So, now I have an appointment with another MS specialist. My current neurologist said he was his mentor.
I want this appointment to go well. I am so nervous that I will botch it up.
I don't want to bombard him with symptoms, so my plan thus far is to list my three life-altering symptoms, my one page timeline, and all of my test results and MRI scans (which were requested).
DH doesn't seem to have any issues with going to the doctor. He said he just tells him or her what is wrong and then answers any questions.
Well, it looks like I did it again... Information Overload ;)
I don't know why anyone would be offended by your post. I'm not, though I disagree with your position, and with the premise of the book. Men and women are far more complex than works of pop psychology, such as the Mars/Venus franchise, allow. It's just so much easier to churn out books based these simplistic stereotypes than to undertake serious analysis based on academic study and reliable research.
On that basis, I think it's a moot point that there are more male doctors than females, or for that matter, that the opposite will eventually be true. Currently 59% of med school grads in Canada are female.
According to Myers-Briggs, I'm an ISTJ (introversion, thinking, sensing, judgment), traits that are stereotypically male, and stereotypical of engineers. I am a female with degrees in psychology and social work and professional practice in social work and HR. Go figure.
I completely agree with your tips, when preparing for a meeting with any type of doctor. Yes, be clear, concise, factual, and don't veer off unnecessarily. Doctors are usually on very tight schedules so one needs to be efficient in covering the most important details in order to get the most value from the visit. Not surprisingly, I've found this to be true whether the doc is male or female.
It would be silly for anyone to be offended by your post, or, by mine. I simply disagree. Doesn't mean I'm mad. The way in which you describe how men communicate, is exactly how I communicate .... with my doctors, and in my personal and professional relationships. And I'm a woman, honest!
If a provider is going to ignore you or not listen because they cannot get past gender or their own stereotypes, and if they haven't learned that patients aren't automatons who spew information in a linear, systematic way, run!
I am an INTJ, (I hate chit chat, gossip, small talk, and I got nervous when I thought about planning our wedding...we eloped incidentally :)...
I am a very direct, focused communicator in many respects, yet I've been given the big brush off too (in the past)...
My brother in law has a Ph.d (evolutionary biologist) and he is respected in his field, yet whe he sees docs, he's also gotten the "yea, you are kind of an idiot" treatment too. He gets pretty frustrated by it too....
My husband has been treated like that, too. I think it is all luck of the draw, and once they size you up within seconds, docs have a set idea about you, right or wrong.
Sorry, I meant to add, to your point about why more women may be given the 'brush off' by doctors, I would look more to sexist attitudes that continue to linger in society (and books like Mars/Venus don't help, in my view). Think back to Freud, 'hysterical' female patients, and so on. Had everything to do with sexism and oppression of women, than whether women communicated less effectively with their doctors. Fortunately, we've come a long long way.
Interesting thread. I find that generalizing involves a lot of peril. It hasn't been my experience that male medical professionals act out of 'maleness' or that I am categorized because I am female. I too think it's much more complicated than that.
It seems to me that neurologists (the 8 or so I've dealt with) are not the easiest of breeds. The ones I know have been for the most part remote and cerebral. It isn't that they don't know how to interact--they really just don't put any premium on it. These include both males and females. We, as patient-consumers, have little choice since they hold all the cards. I don't know what there is about neurology that attracts such people, but it seems to be true for me and for many on this forum, judging by the hundreds of posts I've read on this subject over the years.
I am a Myers-Briggs INTJ also, the rarest type for females. I tend to be analytical and logical more than anything else, and have had to learn to harness the abilities I have to succeed in the working world (as of course everyone has to do). Being also extremely verbal, I found myself in technical fields as the least technical person around, but the one most able to relate to the non-technical population we generally served. I've tried to put this same spin on interacting with MS medical people, and have learned that brevity and conciseness is what appeals to them. This is a pragmatic thing, but it has worked for me.
No idea what my Myers-Briggs type is, but most of the thoughts in this thread make good sense to me. Men and women are vastly different, but not in all ways, and not always. Every one of us is a mixture, somewhere along the scale between each extreme in every dimension.
Oh, I hope I don't offend either, but dv1, for a long time I wasn't clear about your gender. I don't think it matters, but I think we all build imaginary personalities out of the snippets we know about online acquaintances. In your case, I just plain wasn't sure either way. In some ways, I think that says good about you, but I'm not so sure what it says about me. If anything. Well, maybe I should quit this line of thought before I do offend someone!
I wasn't necessarily saying they ignore us because of our gender, rather because of how we communicate. Women, generally speaking, have different ways of relaying information than men. It seems to me, just based on observation, that men don't "sweat" going to the doctor and just laying it out there, so to speak.
Speaking for myself, I know that sometimes I tend to go into too much detail.
I am a very analytical person, I am what is called a Business Analyst. So, I tend to question things.
I read so many posts of women (maybe a man here and there, but mostly women) who get dismissed by their doctors. I just wonder why. I guessII'm inquisitive that way. Maybe there isn't an answer, just like I have read where some people have been told, "You may not ever be diagnosed."
At any rate, at least this has been an active discussion andI aappreciate everyone's input.
That cracked me up Dan. Made me think of the androgynous character Pat on SNL in the early 90s. Is it a man? Is it a woman? No one could figure it out. ;) I know I've mentioned my husband, but that doesn't necessarily make me a woman, does it? You can check out my pics for confirmation of my gender, lol.
In my limited view, men typically hate going to the doctor.
I think once you start seeing specialists and are dealing with symptoms versus signs, docs wonder "Is this person a whackjob?"
I'd argue sexsim drives most of the reasons why women are treated that way by medical professionals (my mother was once noted as having "female dementia" when she was 55) but we all know sexism was eradicated back in the 70's and 80's.
As much as I hate to say it, I agree sexism is indeed still alive and well. Not saying they are all like this, yet I work in a male predominant field and I can assure you that the good ol' boys and alive and well and do deliberately try to make us women look stupid. I would love to say more and give details, but one has to be careful about what one says online.
I have learned some valuable things though. I thought I was one of those tough women who could run with the big dogs. I believe I have those traits because I'm still kicking and a lot of people do respect me.
While my first neurologist basically patted me on the head, I didn't accept that treatment and went elsewhere. I try very hard not to ramble, and to let my current neurologist talk and ask questions. I have also been treated very well and with respect. So I believe my issuewwith my first neurologist was him, not me. DH's solution was simple. If you don't like him, go to someone else when I told him how I was treated by the first guy.
I was just wondering, though, if a communication methodology difference in the two genders affects how women in general are treated. As someone posted above, certain personally types are more likely to become doctors. We all have different personality types and naturally they aren't always going to gel.
I just feel so bad about how people have been treated. I know we only get one side of the story yet we read it so often.
Perhaps certain personality traits used to exist primarily in men, partially due to culture and society.
I guess the Analyst and developer in me are wanting to find a solution.
Thank you all for reading and writing, this is very eye opening.
Also wanted to add thatI bbelieve a lot of this questioning is because of my upcoming MS specialist appointment.
I don't want to blow it.
In general, because there are exceptions to every rule, do men go in withttimelines and a top three symptom list? Or do they just say, "Hey doc, been having X, y and z since blah blah date and leave it at that?
I've kept my timeline to just one page, and have a top three life-altering symptoms list that consists of three brief paragraphs.
I guess the first experience with an MS specialist scarred me and now I want to stay away from the darned stove altogether and just order takeout ;)
Some members here have posted their timeline as a journal entry and sought feedback from others here on how to make it most effective in conveying the information you need to convey while keeping it as brief as possible.
If you think this might be helpful to you, I'm sure you'd get some valuable feedback. I'd be happy to provide some if you like.
I totally get why you thought about this...and why it is important to you.
Call me a naive idealist, but I hope we all can get the care we need, whether we ramble, are direct, can hardly string two words together, etc.
I used to take my husband to appointments, but he either 1. makes the doctor notes as super pleasant and intelligent or 2. keeps the dr on the defensive by grilling them and not letting their b.s slip by unanswered.
My husband is very cute, too...I am not just saying that. My female docs and nurses just love him to pieces.
One neuro I saw in August said to me "If I believe Montel Williams, then there is pain in m.s..." (neuro said this condescendingly....)
Husband said: "Obviously. He only lives with the disease, but you have read about it in books so you must know more about it than he does."
BTW, my current boss (at the one of my 5 jobs that pays the most) is named Pat.
I think there's at least a partial demographic explanation. As noted, "men" (I put that in quotes because we all know that stereotypes are just that) hate going to the doctor. At our age range (maybe that should've been in quotes, too) there are more women than men (since so many of us have died off already). Combine those two facts, and most doctors' patients are likely to be mostly women. Thus the occasional male patient is a change of pace for the doc.
I do wonder if there's a difference in this issue with female docs.
One of the most recent regulars at our church (where yes, I am the pastor) is named Danielle. She lives in my previous home, coincidentally.
Some doctors need a reminder that they may not know everything - and that information updates come along on a regular basis. This doctor can listen to Montel or maybe she would prefer to just go back and read some medical literuture updates. I'm sure the MS Society could sent her some info on the disease.
Sorry your appointment got akward but frankly, this doesn't really sound like the kind of expert you'd want on your case.
Hilarious about your husband. I stopped bringing mine for the same reason. Neuro was explaining how I need to continue to look after my overall health, trying to make the point that not every new ache and pain will necessarily be due to MS. I understood his point, I'm sure he's experienced this with patients, especially the newly diagnosed. My husband thought he was being patronizing, and being loyal to me, said Don't worry, I think she knows not to bother you when she catches a cold. ............ Also awkward. Neuro just kept talking, focused on me, ignoring the comment. I tried to shoot my husband a dirty look but with the crazy diplopia crossed eyes I had at the time, it was lost on him. I don't bring him along anymore. :)
I think the issue is that neurologists often see only in black and white and textbook patterns. I've seen 8 neurologists in various states and always the same approach. I keep bullet point notes with a timeline in medical terminology- makes no difference. If I'm describing a circle type issue that doesn't fit in a square box then already the apt will not be fully productive. We have to remember these are not all holistic doctors- often they skip the bigger picture. It's sad and frustrating, but i believe it's in line with their focal thinking. The question is how to deal with that school of thought.
The typical male patient who frustrates doctors is the one who goes in for a checkup and has only mundane questions during the exam ... until the very end, as the doctor wraps it up, stands up and almost makes it out the door. That's where the typical male patient will say, "Just one more thing ..." and THERE comes the patient's biggest concern that he was afraid to bring up. It is often something they are just embarrassed to bring up, like impotence, or something they are scared about, like symptoms of cancer. So the doc almost made it out the door, but he KNOWS this is the biggest issue that is going to turn out to be something big.
I guess in the end we're all iindividuals and while there may be some stereotypical gender behavior, it may have more to do with personality types. I think overall men are more aggressive and blunt, yet there are more women than in previous years that share those traits.
Btw, I am putting the finishing touches on my timeline and will get it posted soon. Want to make it as brief yet concise as possible.
Thank you to all for your feedback,
All the best, Minnie
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