On a 1-5 rating scale, how would you rate your IBD doctor?
If you said a 2 or a 3 (or yikes, a 1), you’d be right in line with most of the Crohn’s and colitis mamas I talk to.
Why is it that we just can’t find a gastroenterologist we have confidence in?
Having searched for many doctors, both gastro and all kinds of other providers in my lifetime, I know there’s good ones out there. Doctors who become partners in our care, who see us as equals who bring value to our IBD journey.
Having a doctor who helps you feel empowered, confident, and courageous is what I want for you dear one. It can be the difference between constant flare-ups and finding remission. And that’s not an exaggeration.
It’s not a privilege to have a doctor who’s in your corner, it’s your right as a patient with Crohn’s or colitis.
In this episode, we’ll investigate how you can find a doctor you’ll actually rave about. I’m giving you the very tips I use to find excellent doctors who appreciate the value I bring to the doctor patient relationship. Plus, I’ll give you the exact questions to ask before you even step foot in the doctor’s office. These questions will ensure you get exactly what you need from your doctor.
We’ll talk about:
And so much more!
After this episode, you’ll be in the driver’s seat to find the doctor you deserve to help you kick IBD to the curb or transform the relationship you have with your current provider in one with collaboration, connection, and compassion. No more dreading your IBD doctor’s appointments. Hello doctor patient bliss!
Episode at a Glance:
How to Find an IBD Doctor You’ll Rave About (and get what you need from the doc you already have)
Win a copy of my cold and flu buster recipe guide (you’ve got the ingredients right in your kitchen).
[00:01] Hey there, Karyn here. Before we dive into the episode today, I wanted to take a quick moment to say thank you. Thanks for hanging out with me for the last couple months, and for your emails and texts with positive feedback for the show. Being here with you every Wednesday is something I really look forward to as we share our IBD mom journey together. It’s been even better than I dreamed it would be. I’m especially thankful to those who have taken the time to leave a positive review of the podcast on iTunes—like DeviaLea who writes: “I love her! Karyn I love how your get right to it and share your know how with us all!! I am so excited for this podcast!! Thank you girl!!!” Aww, right back attcha, DeviaLea. Thank you girll!!! That made my day when I read it so thank you for that.
I know it takes time out of your busy day to leave a rating and review, and I appreciate it when you do. It helps other moms find the podcast so we can support each other on our IBD journey. And to say thank you for you for leaving a rating and review, I’m currently giving away my Kitchen Arsenal Cure recipe guide just in time for cold and flu season, and of course coronavirus immune boosting as well. Keeping your immune system healthy is more important than ever. If you want to get your hands on my kitchen arsenal cure with 2 recipes to boost your immune system with ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Leave me a rating and review (a positive one I hope) on iTunes. Once you do, take a screen shot of it and email it to me with the subject line podcast review. I’ll immediately send my kitchen arsenal Cure recipe guide your way to say thanks for spreading the love and joy. Whether you leave a review or not, know that I appreciate you and thank you for listening to the show. Now let’s get to it.[music]
Hey there my love, welcome to The Cheeky Podcast for Moms with IBD. It’s episode 10! We’re in double digits now!!!! Whoop whoop! I don’t know about you but I can wait to keep this gut healing party going. I just mapped out the episodes through the end of the year, and let me tell you, we are in for some juicy IBD information.
Today’s episode is no exception.
Today, we’re highlighting our relationship with our doctors. This relationship always seems to be a tricky one to navigate for IBD mamas. Dare I say it might be more complicated that the one you have with your spouse!
[03:35] Let me ask you a question. Do you like your gastroenterologist? Do you even have a gastroenterologist, or did you stop going because he or she annoyed you so much? Pretend you’re on health grades, and your giving your IBD doc a rating—what would it be? From my experience chatting with IBD moms, the likelihood of it being a five-star review is almost 0%. If you already have all your doctors (gastro and others) all of them in the five plus zone, this is probably not the episode for you. Go forth, enjoy your awesome doctor/patient relationships and thank your lucky stars for what you have.
[04:16] But if you’re finding yourself frustrated, annoyed, or anxious about your gastro visits like so many of the clients I see, this episode is going to give you so much clarity and so much power to take with you into your doctor’s office. And it’s also going to give you all the tools you need if you’re ready to take a bold leap and finally find the doctor of your dreams. He or she is out there, waiting for you to come knocking. I promise.
I certainly know a thing or two about hunting down a good gastroenterologist. I’ve done it several times in my 30 + year journey with Crohn’s. When I was first having digestive symptoms, I was young, only 14 years old. I had no clue what Crohn’s was, I had never heard of it. I don’t think I even knew what a gastroenterologist was. As one does at 14, I just went to the doc my mom took me to. Luckily, I had a health savvy nurse of a mama and she not only set me up with a caring gastro where I lived in Buffalo New York Dr. Jan Novak, but she also brought me to a specialist 3 hours from our home, shout out to Dr. Aaron Brezinski, at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
Now, these docs were way western, medication only approaches all the way and at the time, I didn’t know anything about how food, lifestyle, and mindset factors could also be used to treat my disease. This was the late 80’s—it’s amazing how far we’ve come since then. But in their own western medicine way, they were both caring and kind, amazingly knowledgeable, especially Dr. Brezinski at the Cleveland Clinic. Even though I’ve since left the Cleveland area, that hospital will always hold a special place in my heart.
These two doctors, they saw me through the worst of my disease in my teens and into my early 20’s. I didn’t know how lucky I was at the time. I just thought all docs were like that. But then I married my hubby, and we started a whirlwind tour of the world for ten years, going from military base to military base. Sometimes we moved every year, and with each town and each move, it involved finding a new gastro, with them never living up to my first experience.
These ten years, when we moved around a lot with the military, where I never found a doc I felt comfortable with, and really they never even helped me at all, let’s just call it for what it was, it sucked. I felt alone in a sea of pain, diarrhea, despair, and hopelessness.
To anyone outside of the chronic illness world, this might seem quite dramatic, but I know you get it. I know you know this feeling all too well. You know just how alone you feel when you don’t really have someone in the medical profession who’s in your corner. You can have all the family and friend support in the world, and that’s great. But it’s not the same as someone who gets it, who gets you and everything you’re going through medically.
Not having the right doctor can do this to you. It can make you feel anxious, frustrated, depressed, and hopeless… and I’m not just talking about at the doctor’s office, but long after, and on a day to day basis.
Does this sound like your doctor?
[08:16] Doctors who:
These are the kinds of doctors I bet we’ve all dealt with from time to time. And it’s not ok. And more importantly, you don’t have to settle for it. Please, I implore you. Don’t settle for it. There is better care out there. And in this episode, I’m going to tell you how to get exactly what YOU need, from your doctor.
Now, before we go any further, please know that this is not a doctor bashing episode. That is not my intention at all. I’m not down on all doctors. Doctors have saved my life, my kids life and my mom’s life. The surgeon who did my first bowel resection, Dr. Jeffery Milson… outstanding! The doctor who diagnosed my son with Neurocardiogenic Syncope, Dr. De La Uz, fantastic. Whole team of oncology doctors who have kept my mom going an unheard of amount of time—5 years– with liver cancer- I could just hug each of them. Lord knows I’ve known some great ones. And I bet you have too. Currently have several doctors I love. But it was work to find them, let me tell you. I never took the easy road to find them, I never settled like I might have years ago. Finding the right doctor involved knowing exactly what I needed from a doctor whether it was for me or my family members and then, ASKING them it they were able to deliver on what I needed.
There are many ways you can get the most out of your relationship with your doctor, but one of the best things you can do is make sure you have the right doctor for you. The right doctor for you may not be the right doctor for me. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder with life partners and with doctors too.
If you’re goal is to work with the right doctor that fits your needs, especially when it comes to your gastroenterologist, then the best thing to do is start by picking the right gastro right from the start. Sure, if you’re already in a relationship with a doctor you don’t care for, but switching isn’t an option, there are things you can do to improve the relationship (and we’ll get to those ways in just a minute), but it’s much easier to develop the best relationship you can with your medical provider if you start from scratch. I want you to be equipped with the tools you need to do just that. Picking a great gastro, and YES you can, starts with knowing what questions to ask, either before you ever go (which is my preference) or asking those questions at your first appointment (keeping in mind, you never have to go back if you have a bad experience).
[12:02] I’ve created a guide to help you with this whole process. My Top 5 Questions to Ask to Pick a Doctor You’ll Rave About. It’s a pdf guide available to you right now. Over the years, with lots of failed and finally successful attempts at finding the gastro for me, I’ve learned that these 5 questions are the key to helping you feeling empowered, educated, and on an equal playing field with any doctor you choose to allow into your sacred health space.
Trust me, this guide is fabulous. You’re going to want to have it and keep it on hand. You can get my guide by going directly to the shown notes for episode 10 or by going to karynhaley.com/doctor Whether you need it now or not, I would go ahead and get it. And this guide will work for any practitioner, not just gastros. If you want to get this guide: My Top 5 Questions to Ask to Pick a Doctor You’ll Rave About, go to karynhaley.com/doctor—that’s k-a-r-y-n-h-a-l-e-y.com/doctor and it will come straight to your inbox.
Now, if you’re at that point where you know it’s not a good fit with your doctor and you’re going doctor shopping, these 5 questions are all you need to set up a safe doctor-patient space you can growth with, feel nurtured and educated with.
But what if you have a doctor already and you’re not thrilled with your choice, but you see potential there. You’re not ready to kick them to the curb just yet.
There’s always ways you can improve your relationship with your partner, right? Just like partners have to work at a relationship, so do doctors and their patients. Besides having these 5 questions on hand for picking the right doctor for you, I also want you to have my best tips for molding your relationship with your gastro, or any other provider you have, into the one you want it to be. Even if you are just starting out with a new doctor, and especially in this case, these tips I’m about to give you will set the stage for positivity and collaboration right from the start.
It’s so much easier, in any relationship, when we start it off on a supportive and collaborative foot. But know that it’s OK if you didn’t. It might take a little more time and effort, but if you think there’s hope, it’s always a good idea to stick with it and try to make the changes you want to see. If you truly give it a good try and you know you’ve given it your all, at least you will have learned a ton for your next doctor patient relationship.
OK- here are my 8 must do tips you can use to make sure that when you talk, your doctor will listen. If you follow these tips, you will have a relationship with your doctor where you look forward to office visits (imagine that?), you’ll feel valued within your partnership, and best of all, because of this relationship, your health will move in a positive direction.
[15:41] Tip # 1
Go into your next doctor’s appointment with confidence.
Seems simple right? You know you’re in charge. You’re not a wallflower, waiting to be bestowed with powerful wisdom. You’re a mom in charge, a go-getter in the workforce, a partner in crime with your spouse… I know you already know this about other areas of your life, but something seems to happen to us between our head and what comes out of our mouth in the doctor’s exam room. Our thoughts which were crystal clear at home, become mush in the doctor’s office, and furthermore, what we verbalize to our doctor is often a curated version of what’s actually going on in our head.
One of the best ways to make sure that the confidence you have in your heart when you leave the house, sticks with you during the long wait in the waiting room is to plan a trip to the bathroom once you get checked in. Stick with me here, because this will make sense in a sec. When you go to the bathroom, feel free to go if you need to, but the real reason you’re there is to look yourself in the mirror, and remind yourself you are a strong confident woman—sorry I just lost myself in Chandelier from that old episode of friends—but unlike Chandelier, you actually are a strong, confident, woman so this type of positive self-talk will work better on you.
Yes, your doctor went to medical school, so yes, they do have medical knowledge we may not have, but that doesn’t mean what you bring to the table is any less important. Go in with the confidence of knowing that no one knows your body better than you, that you set the tone and flow of the appointment and you know that you will walk away feeling just as empowered, confident, and self-assured as when you came in. You’ve got this girlfriend. Go in with power.
Tip # 2
Go to your doctor’s appointment educated.
Think your doc might be ready for a talk about biologics, or scheduling you for a colonoscopy, or even a surgery? Read up on your options before your appointment. The internet is a beautiful thing my friend. Podcasts like this one, YouTube, research studies… you never know where you’re going to find valuable information about your IBD options. Sure, some of the information may not be so accurate. We know that for all the good information out there, there’s also a lot of bogus info too. But if you choose your sources wisely and are a savvy and skeptical consumer of info like I know you are, you’ll be able to sift through the nonsense and get straight to the credible. Plus, once you’re armed with this knowledge ahead of your appointment, you’re ready to ask the right questions of your medical provider.
Which brings us to tip #3
Always go into your appointment with a list of questions
—hand or phone written, not in your head. Trust me on this mama, you’ll never remember them, even the most seasoned IBDer’s. Once that exam gets started, the poking and prodding, once you hear bad news, or heck even good news… those questions rush right out of your head.
Go with questions and focus on the high milage questions first. You never know when you’ll be shuffled out. Ask the important ones first.
[19:54] Tip # 4
Never let your provider talk over you or down to you
Remember I mentioned that your doctor is smart? They went to medical school and learned all kinds of technical, medical language. Sometimes they just aren’t able to bring all that terminology and medical smarts down to our level and sometimes it’s almost like they are patting us on the head, saying OK little girl, now go do what you’re told.
Hopefully you’ve never had to experience a condescending doctor. Thankfully they are few and far between, but I remember one I had to deal with when my hubby and I had been trying to get pregnant for 2 years with no success and were seeing a fertility specialist. This doctor literally patted me on the head, told me all our fertility issues were most likely in my head. Furthermore, he informed me I probably wasn’t getting pregnant because I didn’t weigh enough and asked if I had an eating disorder. This was all after I explained to him that I had Crohn’s and had trouble keeping weight on. I’ve never wanted to smack a doctor more than in that moment. I immediately left, and never went back again.
I cried all the way home, feeling so humiliated. He took and already emotionally fraught experience, that of a couple experiencing infertility, and made me feel shameful and guilty for my role in it. Shame on him and any doctor who deliberately talks down to their patient. You don’t need to put up with treatment like this. If it ever happens, remember, there’s lots of other fish in the sea. Take my fertility example. I quickly made an appointment with a sane fertility specialist who was kind, compassionate, and understanding. After meeting her, we were pregnant within 3 months.
Tip # 5
Don’t stay if you’re unhappy
This one ties in nicely with the tip was just talked about, tip # 4. If you are unhappy with your gastro for whatever the reason… you don’t like the office staff, you don’t like the options the doc has laid out for you, you don’t like the energy of the office… whatever you’re reason. It doesn’t have to be a tangible reason. Don’t stay if you’re unhappy.
How likely do you think it is that you’ll comply with a doctor or a practice you just don’t get good vibes from?
In cases like this, is there another doctor you might try in the same practice? How about a town over—or 4 towns over? Be willing to go that extra mile (sometimes literally) to find the doctor you mesh with. Trust me, there’s an amazing doctor waiting to serve you. Keep looking. You will find them.
[23;16] Tip # 6
Have your very own Wheel of Wellness
Ok, I have to confess, this is my top favorite tip. My clients hear about the wheel of wellness all the time. So here’s the deal. I said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’ve got Crohn’s or colitis, you need a gastroenterologist. You never know when you’ll need one. Whether you visit once a month or one every couple years, have a contact you can call on just in case.
Having a gastro is important, but what’s that saying about eggs and baskets. Oh, right. Never put all your eggs in one basket. In the world of health, this means that you don’t leave all your care to one person. Healing from Crohn’s and colitis works best when you diversify. Your wheel of wellness might include doctors like your gastro, a PCM, a gynecologist. But it might also include other practitioner areas like a naturopath, a functional medicine provider, an acupuncturist, a health coach like me or a nutritionist. Your wheel of wellness should also include some form of movement like restorative yoga or Pilates, swimming or walking as well as a spiritual practice like prayer or meditation, art therapy, dance therapy or straight up talk therapy as well.
What’s in your current wheel of wellness? Are you diversified enough? It’s unlikely that you’ll find lasting healing from just one expert. Build a team around you, to guide and support you, with all your needs being met. Healing takes a village. Start to create your village today. Remember, you’re at the heart of the village, you’re the leader, and the community needs a leader to lead. Create your own team and you’ll be happier and healthier for it.
Tip # 7
Go in on a level playing field
Instead of going to the doctor’s office, expecting your physician to solve all your problems, go into your appointments armed with all that information you gathered back in tip #2 when you got yourself educated. Go into that appointment, seeing you and your provider as partners—partners on your healing journey. Partners who communicate, collaborate, and consider all the options together.
How awesome would that be? It’s possible and it’s a beautiful thing to experience. Remember though, equals doesn’t mean you both bring the same thing to the table. Your doctor has expertise and great knowledge, hopefully in IBD specifically. This wisdom is of great value and should be appreciated for all it offers.
That doesn’t mean you don’t bring just as much value to your doctor’s appointment. No one, I mean absolutely no one knows you better than you. That’s valuable information. Using information like this to partner with your doctor on an even playing field can only benefit your care.
Think of your doctor as a wise mentor, guiding you, giving you sage advice. And the key piece here is ADVICE. Not the law of the land… advice that you then have a wonderfully collaborative conversation about to make the best decision for you.
[28:07] Tip # 8
It’s OK to be anxious
It’s normal to be nervous when you go to any doctor’s appointment, even with a doctor you truly like and trust. You’re going to see that doctor about something near and dear to your heart- your IBD. It’s upended your life, it’s changed everything… of course you are going to be anxious when you see the doctor.
This completely makes sense. The doctor’s office is also often the place where you’re sitting when you get bad news. It’s often the place where you get poked and prodded by the doctor and that can be uncomfortable and sometimes hurt.
And guess what? You can still have confidence, be educated about your illness, have good questions for the doc, and be anxious at the same time. Being anxious or feeling stressed when you go to the doctor’s office just means you care and you want the best for your health.
So next time you find yourself feeling that way, I say go with it. Don’t fight it. Go with it. The anxiety in this particular moment might actually serve you will.
So there you have it- my top 8 must do tips you can use to make sure that when you talk, your doctor will listen. Let’s do a quick recap:
Here they are:
Use these tips as your guide, whether you’re on the hunt for a new doctor or repairing a relationship with an old one. They will serve you well, no matter what kind of doctor you’re seeing.
And just because I always want you to be fully armed and ready for anything, I’ve got just a few bonus thoughts for you on this subject. Just a couple honorable mentions that I’d be remiss if I didn’t, well, mention…
A few more bonus tips for your consideration
Here they are:
Know when to get a second opinion. It’s not distrust in your doctor, it’s just good health sense. Also, always be honest with your doctor, lying about how you feel or your compliance with a medication always leads to disaster. And lastly, even though I’ve been talking non-stop here about always having a good rapport with your doctor, there are times when there’s more important things than a good rapport. For example, a surgeon doesn’t have to hold your hand, your partner can do that. A surgeon just needs to be a good surgeon. Now I’ve met some truly wonderful surgeons in my life, like Dr. Milsom whom I mentioned earlier, but if someone is cutting me open, I care more about their skill in the operating room than their bedside manner.
OK, some final thoughts before we wrap up.
Have you ever picked a worker or contractor for a home improvement project? How about a babysitter for your kids? Would you hire them sight unseen? Not likely. You would never trust a huge house project or the care of your kids to a stranger.
[32:16] Why are we asked to do this when it comes to our gastroenterologist or any other doctor we see? The truth is, we aren’t. Most people just don’t know that they can actually interview a potential doctor before ever going to the first appointment. Just think, for just a little bit of time up front, how much time you’ll save going to doctor’s appointments with doctors who are actually a good fit for you.
Most doctor’s offices allow you a quick 15 minute meet and greet (over the phone) with the provider to see if they are a good match. Of course, most don’t advertise it, but if you call and ask, they’ll make it happen.
When searching for a doctor in a particular specialty, I’d pick about three options to start. You can find these doctors through internet searchs, other doctor’s, but the best referral of all is usually from a friend you trust. Once you have your doctor’s in mind, and you’ve secured a 15 minute phone call, remember to make your questions succient and be ready for rapid fire. Doctors don’t have a lot of time so make the most of the time you have. And if the doctor absolutely doesn’t have time for a quick 15 minute chat, I’d also accept a chat with his or her nurse. They can usually answer many of your initial questions and you can decide if you want to give the doctor a trial run with your first appointment. If the office won’t even make time for that, I say so long Charlie—definitely not my kind of practice.
Remember, during this 15-minute potential doctor call, you don’t even have to wonder about what questions you’re going to ask. It’s all covered for you with my pdf guide: The Top 5 Questions to Ask to Pick a Doctor You’ll Rave About. It gives you the best, most high milage questions to ask on your call. After these A’s to your Q’s, you’ll feel more confident in your choice of provider and go into your first appointment ready to crush those 8 doctor patient tips we went over today.
Grab your FREE pdf guide below
If you want to be ready for your next potential doctor interview get the guide: My Top 5 Questions to Ask to Pick a Doctor You’ll Rave About. Go directly to the episode 10 show notes or get the guide at karynhaley.com/doctor.
I can’t wait to hear how this goes for you. Let me know will ya? Email me at email@example.com and let me know how this episode landed for you. Does it sound crazy? Are you already doing this and want to share another tip with our mom tribe. Let me know where you’re with finding a provider you rave about to your friends and family. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Wishing you a cheeky and healthy IBD healing journey.
[35:49] One last thing, if you’re still with me, and if you are, you’re definitely my kind of gal. We have to get to know each other better. If you’re tired of living on the hamster wheel of IBD with all the ups and downs between flares and remission, if you’re struggling to get control of your abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and other troubling IBD symptoms, go to my website. It’s karynhaley.com, and my mom had to be just a little bit different, she spelled my name with the Y. So it’s K-A-R-Y-N H-A-L-E-Y.com and schedule your very own free 30-minute IBD root cause trouble-shooting session with me where we discuss the challenges you’ve been having, we set goals to help you move forward, and we talk about how we can work together to help you get your life back. It’s a power packed 30 minutes. You don’t have to live in IBD status quo. There’s so much that can be done to transform your life so you can thrive in motherhood and thrive with IBD. I’ve seen my clients walk this path and it gives me so much joy to take that journey with them.