Keeping busy has been good for me, I thought, until I discovered I needed brain surgery. When I was told I suffered from normal pressure hydrocephalus and needed an operation to relieve pressure inside my brain, my first thought was will I still be able to write? I also thought I might not survive and gave my grandfather's rocking chair away.
And how would I find a surgeon? I needed to educate myself about the medical profession. Quickly. I learned a lot.
The prospect of surgery is intimidating -- if not terrifying -- and brain surgery even more so. But in choosing a brain surgeon the cardinal rule is not to be intimidated.
Self-esteem and self-worth are continually challenged by our medical profession. By doctors. By nurses. By illness. Do not allow anyone in the medical profession make you feel as though he or she is more important than you. You are entering into a partnership with a hospital and a surgeon. Your body is being offered to a skilled professional to do as she or he feels necessary. This does not mean that you need to be subservient. Respectful, yes.
Research doctors at libraries, in periodicals that list top doctors and inside your phone book. Quiz your friends about their experiences. And remember you must get at least three doctor's opinions. This means you get free time with the doctor you may be choosing to operate on you. For a doctor to talk to you costs him money. His time has a price tag on it and therefore you will not be able to speak with him frequently. You will be speaking with his staff and a nurse practitioner.
When you meet a doctor, have a list of questions to ask. To meet top doctors you may have to do name dropping and pull strings. These doctors also are select in the patients they choose to see. But there are enough good doctors so that you don't have to deal with "celebrity" doctors. Make your questions after Googling the affliction you have. Do research by talking with his or her former patients. Finding them is your homework. To your interview take a pen and paper, your questions and a friend. Always have someone with you when interviewing surgeons/doctors.
Why? Our memories play tricks on us. Two opinions are better than one. And facts can become vague unless you have a witness. Also remember you want this doctor for his or her skill, not his or her bedside manner. Doctors actually take courses in how to deliver a soothing bedside manner. Don't be fooled by patronizing conversation and above all speak up! Ask your questions with confidence. You want their help and skill and they want your business. You are business to the doctor (as crass as it sounds).
Doctors also pride themselves on their reputations. Their reputations are business to them. Their reputations attract patients which equals money. They want you to like them and to speak well of them. Don't be a people pleaser with a doctor. No point. Don't try to get her or him to like you. Finding a doctor is not about making a friend. It is about making a reliable judgment call and protecting your health. Be yourself and be assertive. Be your own advocate. These are the steps I took to find the best neurosurgeon possible. Today I have a healthy brain and a new life.
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