The fact that they tell us “curiosity killed the cat” is bullshit. In the case of our medical health “curiosity” may be the one thing between us and the morgue.
As young people it is our job to yell, scream, or worse…. tweet about things we are suspicious of. We are a generation that has no qualms with questioning authority.
Whether it is blogging about a gay- bashing employee at Starbucks, recording a racist professor on our cell phone or sending the photo of our local politician’s “Wiener” to every one of our Facebook friends, we are professional whistle blowers. We are suspicious of nearly everything from the calorie count in our lattes to the reasons for the war. We ask questions, questions that force people to be accountable whether or not they want to. For this reason we are powerful, and even scary. But we need to seriously consider if we are asking the right people the right questions.
We are great at challenging authority and fighting the “man” when he is a politicians or our parents but what if the “man” is our doctor?
Maybe I’m too pushy, or overly concerned with my health, but I’m not sure there is a such thing. The past few years I have come to realize as a patient, I may be a doctors worst nightmare, and I’m totally ok with that.
Luckily, I do not have cancer but I am all to aware of how many people my age do. Working with iy has only reassured me of this. When I get to the doctors office I often feel as though they are prepared to tell me what is wrong with me rather than asking. My bra-burning, tree hugging, as my father would say “communist” college education may have taught me to be overly “curious”, but in the case of my health it has saved my life.
A year and a half ago, I had a very severe case of strep throat. For two weeks, I was in the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. I knew and insisted that it had to be more. After 3 doctors visits and no relief, or consideration of questions I turned to my good old friend the internet. Web MD told me what my real MD could not. After a 4th visit I was told once again I was wrong. This time I specifically asked about what Web MD had said. I was responded to with a shake of the head and a “everyone’s a doctor” to which I quickly replied “could you check just one more time?”. It was, exactly what I thought, something much worse then strep throat, something that could kill me. They performed emergency surgery, and I was better the next day. There was no apology, or mention of the fact that someone, I’ll give you a hint, the someone with a Medical Degree was wrong.
Since then, I have been a Barbra Walter-esque patient. I ask questions, lots of them, and I never ever feel bad. Although this may be annoying to the doctor there are worse things. They get paid the big bucks, the least they can do is tell me which chemicals I’m taking and why.
Our entire lives we are taught that we should trust the doctor. Take what they tell us, do what they tell us, and shut up. This is not a luxury we give any other people in our lives, certainly not our parents or politicians so why do we let our doctors get away with it?
Do not misunderstand me. Doctors, and medicines are necessary and often times wonderful. BUT, our health is one thing that we have a vested interest in. What we do with it has a more personal immediate effect on us than any of the other things we love to complain about. It’s time we start tweeting, blogging, and asking. These are the issues that literally can save our lives.
To those of you living with cancer and the survivors:
I know I’m preaching to the choir. Obviously people living and recovering from cancer knew and still know to ask questions. You are a model of how the rest of us should act. You went to the doctor when something was wrong, you know to ask, know to trust your instincts, know to be pushy and most of all you know how to fight.
The rest of us need you to teach us how. Keep up the good work, but please, please share what you have learned. You are the real experts.
Yes, the gas prices suck, Yes, Anthony Wiener is an idiot, Yes, Charlie Sheen is a train wreck but in a world where 70,000 Americans between 15-40 are diagnosed with cancer each year (that’s one every eight minutes), these are the real issues we should be talking about.
I say, if you get pissed off about one thing this year, this should be it. Doctors are people, they make mistakes too. No one cares about you more than you. Get pissed, get talking, start demanding answers.
My name is Grace. I am a summer intern at I'm Too young for This Cancer Foundation. I love Ice Coffee, yoga, poetry, and the beach.