Patient-Doctor Relationship: A Trust Issue

I visited my doctor the other day for my routine check up. As I entered her clinic, I was received with a familiar smile that made me feel at ease. It’s like I’m seeing a family member again. That’s what TRUST does to you. It makes you comfortable and safe with the person you trust.

Being under her care for 10 years, I’ve learned to trust her and the decisions she makes regarding my health. She also trusts me in a way that she expects me to follow her instructions—taking the right doses of medicine, having my laboratory tests done, showing up for follow-up check up, eating healthy, avoiding the sun, and the list goes on. It’s not easy taking care of a Lupus patient more so treating it. Just ask my husband and my mom. 🙂 It’s a complicated illness because it mimics other diseases. Very cunning, I must say. Just when you thought you’re healthy, your immune system attacks your organs. One book said that Lupus is simply “the body against itself”. In my own interpretation, my immune system is simply schizophrenic. It cannot distinguish reality from fantasy. The reality being that it should protect me instead of the fantasy that it should destroy me. With a complex illness like that, I have no choice but to trust the expertise of my doctor. She’s not perfect though. She made mistakes and some decisions that were not supposed to be done. But these mistakes made her even better in her management of my illness as the years go by.

As I am writing this, I have a couple of friends having trust issues with their doctors. One is actually a mom of a co-patient. Her daughter’s lab results are normal but she’s experiencing aches and pains. She’s questioning our doctor’s ability to diagnose. My other friend is facing a decision if she should have her leg amputated or not after having a major car accident. The doctor said that it should be done as soon as possible but as of the moment she’s still thinking about it.

I’ve always believed that our doctors are assigned by divine appointment. God equipped them to attend to our needs and bring healing through their competency in the field of medicine. I must say though that I didn’t have the best experience with doctors all the time. In my recent confinement last December, the doctor assigned to me was steroid happy. Meaning, she wanted to give me high doses of steroids immediately. It would’ve been okay if I wasn’t pregnant at that time. My real doctor was not affiliated to the hospital I was in so I was referred to a new one. Do I still think that it was divine appointment that I had that new doctor? Yes. Her aggressiveness in treating me made us consult another specialist who attended to my needs and balanced her impulsive prescriptions. That specialist even monitored my kidney after the operation. If not for her, we wouldn’t know that my real doctor has a colleague in the said hospital. I was able to transfer to his care with her permission. At the end of the day, things still fell in their proper places. God was still in full control of my situation.

I think the main issue about trust is the object of our trust. We can easily give trust but the question is who do we give it to? Entrusting your health to a stranger can be tough. I understand why the mom of my co-patient is having difficulty trusting our doctor. It’s her daughter that’s at stake and not some bystander. I understand my friend taking her time to mull things over. It’s her leg that’s at stake and not somebody else’s. If the object of our trust is someone who has a record of 100% success rate then trusting that person would be a piece of cake. But if we look at the limitations of our doctors then a lot of doubts will cloud our judgment.

We may come from different belief systems but in my personal experience TRUSTING GOD has been the best decision I made most especially regarding my health. Among all the areas in my life, my health has been the most unpredictable and life threatening. This is the reason why I needed to trust someone who is immovable, strong, unchanging, secure, and by all means perfect. That person is God and no one else. As I look back the past 13 years of my journey with Lupus, with 4 major relapses and minor ones in between, there were only two things that were constant—the imperfect me and my perfect God. He was and still is the sovereign, all-knowing Healer who faithfully sustains me. He gives me peace when doubts start looming in. He gives me strength as I undergo treatments. He sustains me while I’m under remission. He gives me courage to trust my doctors. He is the rock I lean on. He is the steadfast God that I trust completely.

A patient-doctor relationship is most certainly a trust issue. I may be a forever patient with an incurable disease but my relationship with my Doctor is one that is founded on trust that gets stronger as we face this journey together until such time that I am a patient no more. 🙂

  • CJ Ramos Martin
    Posted at 13:45h, 24 June Reply

    hi ivy.thats a very well said piece.its always a matter of who is in the center of your faith. you made the right decision of putting God in the center and you together with your family and doctor goes hand in hand, not in the front, not in the back but beside each other. now look at where God has brought you-you have a lovely little boy 😀
    with love from CJ Ramos-Martin

    • Ivy San Diego-Guerrero
      Posted at 14:13h, 24 June Reply

      Thanks, CJ! 🙂 God has been so good and faithful 🙂 Hope you’re doing well! 🙂

  • thehoppymommybunny
    Posted at 14:26h, 15 August Reply

    Hi mommy,

    My sister-in-law also has lupus. She was diagnosed 3 years ago and has been in and out of the hospital ever since. I think it’s her third major confinement now. She’s now at St. Luke’s Global. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve been doing good despite the challenges. I hope my SIL will accept her illness and adjust soon. Medyo nahihirapan siya lalo na she’s a nurse and her job doesn’t make it any easier – being exposed to virus and all.

    Thanks for this article. I think this is what she needs – to trust her doctors 🙂

    Love yah,

    • Ivy San Diego-Guerrero
      Posted at 18:10h, 15 August Reply

      Hello, my baby Anna! 🙂

      You’re welcome 🙂 I’ll be praying for her. Some patients adjust longer. The first few years din kasi are the ones when patients usually get more flares because we have yet to learn to adjust to our sickness. As you learn to live with Lupus and adjust your lifestyle then things will get better. 🙂 Maybe she should start getting a new job like being a medical transcriptionist or a private nurse instead. Stress is not good din kasi for Lupus patients. If you want, introduce her to me through FB then maybe we can text and I can encourage her 🙂 miss you!

      Much love,
      Mommy Ivy 🙂

      • thehoppymommybunny
        Posted at 08:40h, 16 August Reply

        Sige will tell her about you so at least she can have a support system with someone that has the same case. Thanks so much mommy! 🙂

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