Healthcare is a minefield sometimes and being a patient navigating through it can be really hard work and not the type of hard work you want to be doing when you are unwell or in pain.
With chronic illness you often become an expert in your own condition and can therefore speak up for yourself because you often know more than your medical providers do. You know the latest research and the latest medications or tests.
But what happens when something new happens to you and you don’t know the ins and outs of what has happened. You have to trust what the medical professionals say wether it is a physio, Dr or Nurse Practioner. We put our faith in their hands.
So what do you do when you get conflicting advice and feel totally confused.
This happened to me recently and I still feel very unsettled.
For those who follow my social media will know I managed to fall out my bath because I didnt have my weight on my leg (the one I have no feeling in) properly when stepping out the bath. As a result I ended up with a very painful knee, spectacular bruising and swelling to the point I could not fit my AFO (splint) on my leg. After an X-ray which was inconclusive I decided to go and get some physio. Knee injuries are not new to me- skiing and football makes you a bit predisposed to knee injuries but I don’t knees well unlike my Asthma and lungs.
After several physio sessions my physio who deals with knees he felt I needed further input and an MRI so off the to the GP surgery to ask for a referral. I figured this would be easy as the physio told me what he thought was going on and why he wanted an MRI to establish the best course of treatment. I could not be more wrong. The nurse practioner was awful, particularly unhelpful and left me feeling so confused. Refused to refer me for an MRI and basically slated everything the physio told me despite not really examining my knee properly. It was examined by him in my splint etc.
Long story short I left the GP surgery somewhat bewildered. I really didnt know what I should do or who I should be trusting. I was also shocked at how one professional could slate another one infront of a patient without really knowing the back ground.
If I had not had so much experience with healthcare and being a previous nurse I could have ended up doing myself more damage by not trusting the right person. I am also fortunate that I can go down the private route to be seen to establish what is going on as quickly as possible but others I know are not in that position and need to wait for the NHS but also need to wait for healthcare practitioners to agree with what course of action to take.
I wonder how long it would take for me to go through the NHS route having practitioners at odds with each other. Who would win?
I have thought a lot about my experience and wonder how many others face this dilemma that I was in and how they get out of it. I do feel concerned by it. Im sure there will be lots of people but what I also know is that there will be very little documentation of how the patient feels and what action was taken or why the professionals disagreed with each other etc.
For patients to live their best life and get the best health they need we must have clear consistent information and not conflicting information from different healthcare practitioners which are at total odds to each other without justification. Patients are encouraged to advocate for themselves but we can only do that if we have the correct information to make informed decisions. I did not have this but thankfully had knowledge from my nursing to know how to choose what information to trust and what to ignore.