What are so many people afraid of doctors and lawyers?

Some of you may immediately respond “I am not afraid of them”.  And if you are one of those people, I applaud you.  You have what it takes to do what you need to do for yourselves without being afraid. I wish I could honestly say that I am like you in that way.  

Unfortunately, many people are afraid of representatives of both occupations.  Part of it may be that we see them as authority figures…people who can tell us what we need to know.  Many people with high blood pressure will report that when they go in to see the doctor, their blood pressure actually goes up.  I am one of those people.  My last two doctors understood this, and when the nurse took the blood pressure and it was higher than they wanted it to be, they would then do it themselves or have the nurse do it again after I had been sitting in the examination room for a while.  It was always down the second time…sometimes by a considerable amount.

It is also my opinion that like Lawyers, doctors often try to be intimidating.  Their knowledge in their chosen subject sometimes bleeds over into a generally aloof, and/or authoritarian attitude about everything.  My mother was semi-comatose for the last few weeks but communicated with me.  She didn’t with the doctor, because the doctor stood upright and kind of yelled down at her.  Mom wouldn’t have responded well to that aloof, somewhat superior behavior when she was well.  That led the doctor to question my statements at every turn and insist that mom was unresponsive even though I knew in my heart that she was responding to me.

I have learned over the years from personal experience that one can and should stand up to doctors at certain times.  They are NOT perfect and have their “procedures” which may or may not serve you, the particular patient, in good stead.  When you know what works in your body, standing up is what you need to do, but it is very hard sometimes because of this fear of doctors that many of us have had rammed down our psychological throats. Let’s face it, some doctors and lawyers have this in common with them, do tend to be prone to having what is called a “god complex”.

My mother was so afraid of her first doctor that she had when I was young that even when she KNEW his treatment wasn’t working, she felt trapped and wouldn’t change doctors or even consider seeing another one.  She was afraid because he knew her so well, that somehow that information wouldn’t track over, and her care would be lost if she tried changing doctors. She actually made a statement to me one time that getting another opinion might upset Dr. X and he might take it out on her. But then, I never ever liked that particular doctor anyway because of his attitude and would have been more than willing to change doctors, in her place. She didn’t agree with me, obviously and she was the one with the situation, not me.

Latter, of course, I understood the fear more, when it was a situation that was mine. If I am changing doctors, there is no reason for fear afterwards but changing in and of itself can be scary. Questions come up, if you are a worry wart like myself, like “what if I don’t find a good new doctor and am in worse shape than I am now”.

Within the last four years, I had to deal with exactly such an issue. My doctor at the time told me that I had diabetes. However, that is all the nurse explained. She did tell me that I needed to eat no more than 2000 calories per day, but that left me in a quandary. Without guidance, I somehow just knew there was more that I needed to know, but it didn’t seem to be forthcoming. In fact, there seemed to be an odd indifference to my situation and the internet was driving me crazy with the conflicting advice.

Now here is where I understand the fear.  I called, make an appointment with an Endo/internal medicine person.  The first appointment is Jan 18th, 2017 (about 6 months away).  That is a long time.  Now I told the office that I was going to keep looking..that I thought I needed a new doctor before then for the proper treatment of my diabetes.

But there is still that fear.  Will I like the new guy?  He speaks with a bit of an accent, will I be able to understand him?  What happens between now and January 18th?  Will one of my other resources find another option?  (and then, with the possible exception of the accent question, repeat the questions about THAT option as well).

So maybe part of the fear of doctors is related to the uncertainly.  Their busy schedules makes you have to wait, and that is scarey if you have an immediate health issue, as I do.  Once a doctor is picked I can work on standing up to him or her but in the meantime I am “uncomfortable”…a feeling that I think is natural.

The resolution, as it turned out, was actually not the doctor I was planning to check in with above. I just picked a different general internist and made an appointment after searching for options on my insurance plan. I went in, and the difference was amazing. For one thing, the new guy (and yes, I still like dealing with a male doctor, I am personally more comfortable) was way more engaged. However, in addition, he has a website that allows me to actually check the test results myself. If I have questions, say something is either high or low from the range recommended, I can then call or message him to find out if it is a problem. Incidentally, it usually isn’t.

That online service also served me well recently when I had a PSA test to check six months after a prostate cancer scare. That specialist had told me that my test result stood at 4.9 and there was no cancer at the time of the original exploratory surgery. He said, at the result review, that if the figure went up significantly in six months, we would need to “explore” again. I went for the test, and had an appointment for another consult within the last month, and saw the results showed the same number. So, I called, being concerned about keeping my exposure to the public limited as much as possible, and checked if I really needed to come in for a consult considering the way we went into this. The conclusion was that with the arrangements we had to start with and the numbers remaining the same, I could wait another six months to come back, AFTER have another blood test.

So being brave, and taking some charge of your own medical care can actually serve you well over the long haul. The way I look at it now, at this point in my life, of course, is different than it might have been if I had continued to live in the same town. But since I moved from Tennesee to Louisiana in February of 2014, after retiring, I had to change doctors and haven’t got that attacked to either of the two doctors I have had since I moved. It was easy to leave the first Louisiana doctor after about three years, and if I needed to, I could leave this one as well. I might just do that if I manage to move across town to where I REALLY want to be at some point in the next few years anyway.

My mother had lived in the same town for 25 years, and had the same doctor and was attached. That had to have been different, but still, I would hope even in the same situation, I would have the nerve to speak up for myself more than she did. I tend to see medical doctors as people who are there to help us, and if they aren’t helping us as much as we deserve, we need to change doctors. The only option is to either suffer in silence or confront them. I have confronted an anesthesiologist who tried to put me totally to sleep when my surgeon had reassured me that it wouldn’t be done if not absolutely necessary. I stopped him and refused to sign the paperwork, which made him angry. It made him even angrier when the surgeon backed me up. It turned out, that I didn’t have to be knocked out totally and the surgery went fine.

I write this to illustrate that my experience dealing with the medical profession has been better when I have been willing to call them on their attitude or change doctors when their actions are not serving me. I, also, have benefitted from being assertive when it is my health and well being that is on the line, and they want to do something I don’t want to do. Now, that is not always the case. Some things the doctor should be listened to on when it is their expertise. I wouldn’t suggest ignoring their recommendation to have a checkup or to have a colon examination is recommended, especially when cancer runs in the family. However, as with my situation with the anesthesiologist, my fear of the way the surgeon had described what the general anesthesia would do in terms of metal rods and a metallic taste, etc, was so scary to me that I had to speak up, and am very glad that I did.


4 thoughts on “What are so many people afraid of doctors and lawyers?”

  1. I think I am very fortunate to have only experienced this once from the medical/law field.
    My mother is a retired nurse and as we grew up we got to know the many different Drs she worked with. We went to parties at these Drs houses with my mother. All the kids swam while the adults mingled and danced. She became friends with all these Drs. So my mother always knew how a Dr should treat their patients and she knew proper protocol and would easily report anything out of sorts. And she always told us…if we are not comfortable with a Dr….request a new one.
    My sons Pediatrician saw all of them from the day they were born until they were grown teenagers. She also was my moms friend who became my friend after she retired. She is such an exceptional human being.
    My Dr. who did my hysterectomy was also an old friend of my mothers.
    Funny Story. I was a young teenager when I first met him at one of these house parties. HE WAS GORGEOUS. Such a beautiful man….and he IS an ob-gyn. Anyhow…..years later I become pregnant at 20 and they referred to him. WHAT? NO WAY? I can’t see him…..he is just too good looking. So I asked for a female ob-gyn and they sent me to a cold …rushed female who didn’t even look me in my eyes on my fist visit. My mom also knew her but she couldn’t understand why this Dr was so cold towards me. So I requested another ob-gyn and was sent to a wonderful older gentleman who delivered my first 2 sons. (my mother didnt know this guy)
    Anyhow….about the handsome first Dr. Years later I am having female problems and my Chiropractor recommends her female friend who is a top GYN in San Diego and actually had a waiting list to get in to see her. But I was able to get in and my first appointment was with her assistant. After all test and ultra sounds are done my second visit was with the famed GYN (I felt so lucky) She said she would like to refer me to another top ob-gyn who was an expert in the field and who does robotic surgery…..and she told me his name and it was my moms handsome friend. I guess he was this Drs teacher and mentor. Now being 3o years since I first met him….I was no longer nervous. He is still handsome…but a little shorter …a little older…and less intimidating.
    So I have a few Drs in my circle….and my cousin was actually nominated for Surgeon General YEARS ago. So I don’t really need to read about what’s best regarding this virus…..I just make a call to my friends and my family. I don’t need no explanations from them…I go with their flow.

    I know my story is not a common one….so I do feel very fortunate.
    And I feel for anyone who has a horrid experiences with any Dr.
    They only get away with it because not many people follow through with complaints.
    AND….some places won’t replace them because it isn’t in the budget.

    As for Lawyers……well…..I actually have been on and off dating one for the last few years. I would say we are more friends and NOTHNG will come from this. Because he is a ….I almost hate to say this….but he is a republican. hahaha.
    Long story for another day. I can’t type 2 stories in one log in.
    But I have had a lawyer on call since my first car accident. He was my Chiropractors friend and since has become my friend.

    I have to say….follow any recommendations you can. Your friends and family would not steer you wrong.

    And you are right….CALL THEM OUT. Some just have this attitude that we are so lucky that they are seeing us.
    Many people never follow through with complaints so these Drs feel they can get away with their awful attitudes.

    Believe it or not…I had more to say but I keep hitting the wrong keys.
    I think that’s my hint to…..sign off.

    1. Interesting that you had a cold, rushed female doctor experience. One of the reasons that I don’t want, personally, to go to a woman doctor, really is personal…but there is another reason having to do with a female doctor my mother had at the end of her life. She was the one that talked down to her.

      I decided then and there that the expectation that exists in some circles that a woman doctor would be more patient, and nurturing is not always true. Interesting, however, there was another intern, who was female that agreed with me that my mother WAS in fact responsive if you approached her the right way.

      1. You had me looking back at this experience….and realized there was another female Dr who was also this way. My Dr had just moved on to another organization and they were bringing in a new female Dr who was a friend of my Cousins. They had both went through medical school together. So it was nice meeting her but she also was very rushed and kinda cold as well. I only saw her a few times before she left . AND….the GYN I mentioned above that is top in San Diego and recommended by my Chiropractor….she was not a soft women. But I don’t think I noticed because being in the field I was in I had to be a bit cold and hard. But my field had been a mans world up to that point. There was a time and a place for it….and a time and a place to be compassionate and caring. What is the excuse for these female Drs? The Dr I have had for the last few years is female….and she is so kind and fun and we sit and talk and talk when I see her. I always seem to make friends with my Drs. and Dentist…and Lawyer 😉

        I think it is just the luck of the draw.

        The best Dr I ever had was a female who was actually psychic. She just had to touch you and she knew what was wrong. She pushed natural medications but also had to write prescriptions because it was her job. But she would write on a separate paper natural remedies. She became a good friend of our family. She left the organization because it got too political for her.

        I couldn’t imagine having to sit through what you did with your mother. I can be too pushy sometimes and though some may see me as rude in those moments …..you have to be when no one is listening. I will be nice and polite about it a few times. But when that doesn’t work I raise it up a notch. I like to give people the opportunity to fix their situations. And if being a bit more louder still doesn’t work…..I contact every top dog I can …have all of my documentation ready. No one wants to reach that point….but when it comes to the well being of someone….a human life….scream from the top of your lungs. Everyone is accountable to someone. Thats key to remember.

        1. Oh, I totally think it is the luck of the drag. I also believe that coldness is very often a protective measure on the part of anybody, including a doctor, who is trying to maintain some degree of objectivity so that they can handle having cases that in some cases end in death without losing it.

          It is just frustrating to be on the other side of that. 🙂

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