The Importance Of A Healthy Doctor-Patient Relationship

The Importance Of A Healthy Doctor-Patient Relationship

How my surgeon shattered the image of hardhearted physicians.

Many of us go through life choosing to be blissfully oblivious about our health and safety. We ignore the “Apple a day keeps the doctor away,” advice; even when something goes wrong and we force ourselves to go to the doctor, we tend to let the professionals do all the talking. As passive patients, we allow the doctor to have full control over the conversation, allow him or her to make the recommendations and ask the questions. But on an even more worrisome note, we deny that anything could ever go wrong and that we would ever need to put ourselves in the uncomfortable position of communicating with our doctor in the first place.

I had always been a seemingly healthy – mentally, physically, socially – child. I rarely got sick, I hardly ever needed to visit the doctor; which was fortunate considering my mother’s bouts with seizures and my father’s persistent heart problems. Like many young children, I assumed nothing as bad as what happened to them, could ever happen to me. But, when I hit puberty at an early age, my disillusion was brought to an abrupt halt. I was in sixth grade when my mother began noticing that my posture was getting worse and worse. My parents would yell at me to sit up straight, and when I responded, ‘I am,’ their faces would suddenly reek of concern. Overly cautious, my mother brought me to the pediatrician to do a scoliosis test. She knew the signs for she had a mild case of it herself when she was in her pre-teens. My encounter with the pediatrician was less than helpful. From what little I remember of the visit, when she asked me to bend over, her eyes widened and she gave my mother the name of a highly recommended orthopedic surgeon in our town, sending us on our way.

As a scared, insecure thirteen-year-old girl, the idea of having something wrong with my spine – wrong with me – was petrifying. Appearance is everything to a sixth-grade girl who is desperately trying to find her place in a suddenly mature world. After talks with my mother and researching scoliosis on the internet, I discovered my only options were to wear a brace for a year or more, or surgery – two things I was completely unprepared for. I’d seen more of the inside of hospitals with all my parents’ and grandparents’ health issues than some have seen in a lifetime, the last thing I wanted was to experience it for myself.

Stepping into the orthopedic surgeon’s office for the first time was like stepping into a nightmare from which there was no falling from a high point and jolting myself awake. There were dozens of people in the waiting room, some whose deformities were hidden like mine and others with braces on their legs and walking with canes. As the nurse called out my first name to take me to the x-ray room – mispronouncing it horrendously, might I add – I kept trying to convince myself that this whole endeavor would be a waste of time, that there would be nothing wrong.

After the x-rays, I met my doctor for the first time. I’d been expecting an old man who would walk in, refuse to make eye contact with me in my backless robe, and deliver the sad news without any emotion, like many I had seen take care of my parents in the past. Thankfully, I received the opposite. I received Dr. Jonathon Carmouche, the epitome of young, tall, and handsome. He walked in with a smile on his face, began shaking my hand and then my mother’s, seeming eager and pleased to make my acquaintance. Before even addressing my potential ailment, he began asking me about myself - not just what grade I was in -but my interests, my family, and my friends. He seemed to be taking a genuine interest in me as both a patient and a human being

Eventually, he got to the reason for the visit in the first place. He lit up the x-ray of a back with a spine in the shape of an ‘S,’ and told me and my mother that it looked like I had a significant curvature that would need to be corrected. He looked at us, inquisitive, wondering if we had any questions if I had any questions. I could not ask questions. I could not breathe. Feeling like my world had been shattered, I began to cry. Instead of leaving the room or looking away, my doctor apologized and said he understood how I must have been feeling, then offered me a box of tissues. This small act of human kindness proved to me that not all doctors were the same. Not all of them wanted to get in, give a diagnosis, and get out, paying no mind at all to how the patient feels or reacts to the news. Because it was obvious that he truly cared about me, I relaxed. I started to ask questions, interact with him, and the easier it became to talk to my doctor like the human being he is, the easier it was to accept he was not an emotionless robot, and thankfully the easier my condition became to swallow.

Over the next three years, Dr. Carmouche and I developed a very special doctor-patient relationship. As we got to know one another better, I became more and more comfortable speaking with him about concerns about my condition and about my life in general. Instead of being scared of going to appointments, I looked forward to them. My doctor was a busy man with numerous other patients, yet always found extra time to stay and talk with me, without lingering by the door and acting as if he had better places to be. He was always excited to see me and remained ever optimistic about the progress I was making.

It was inevitable that the brace I wore for a year – the brace that required baggy clothes and sweaty night sleeps – would not fix the sixty-degree curve entirely; I would still need surgery. As terrifying as that concept was, the support from my family as well as my doctor enabled me to go into surgery with the confidence that everything would work out. After my nine and a half hour surgery, I emerged a few inches taller, with a straighter spine. He visited me daily during my week in the hospital, checking each time to make sure I wasn’t in too much pain and to encourage me to start walking the day after my surgery. Before I was discharged, I had to do one more x-ray; this time with two titanium rods lining my spine. As my doctor showed my family and I the new and improved x-rays, he went on about how great the surgery went and how I would have no limitations or problems in the future. But if I did, he assured me that he would always be there. He explained that I was to have follow-up appointments, each one fewer and further between. Before leaving, but not before my parents thanked him immensely for everything he’d done, he gave me a hug goodbye.

The last time I saw Dr. Carmouche, it was a very teary goodbye; I was a junior in high school for my last follow-up appointment. Over the years, I was one of his “favorite patients.” He had watched me grow up from a scared little girl in middle school to a confident young woman. Before, I was a child, only a two-year veteran of middle school, meek, self-doubting, and entirely unaware of all that I would accomplish in my high school years to come. I have him to thank for the medical and emotional support it took for me to be the person I am today. It is also because of my experience with Dr. Carmouche, that I chose to focus on the health aspect of communication for my bachelor’s degree.

The encompassment of physical, psychological, and social impacts of an illness or ailment of some kind is widely overlooked by many doctors in the healthcare industry today. As a society, we have come to expect little interaction from our doctors. We refuse to ask questions; we listen to medical jargon we cannot remotely hope to understand, all because we are given the impression by our doctors that anything other than our physical ailment is irrelevant. What many physicians fail to understand is that patients’ emotions are just as significant to a condition as the physical aspects. A positive ‘bedside manner’ is all but obsolete. I was lucky enough to find a doctor who made my priorities – having a straight spine and confidence in myself – his own. My triumphs became his, and this is a rarity among many in the healthcare field nowadays. Unfortunately, there is little we as patients can do to effect the way our physician interacts with us. However, we patients can have just as much power as the doctors. This power stems from simple facets of one-on-one communication. We must ask questions, not be told what is important for us to know about our bodies. We must be assertive and voice our concerns. And we must take an active role in our healthcare until it is the majority of doctors demonstrating the same type of care as Dr. Carmouche did for me; until the majority of doctors are just as invested in patient satisfaction as we are in their ability to heal.

Cover Image Credit: Sacramento Magazine

Popular Right Now

65 Truths College Students Need to Hear Right Now

Truth every college student needs to hear.

1. The best memories are ones you actually can remember.

2. God isn’t going to ask you if you were in a top-tier sorority or fraternity at the gates.

3. You failed a test, not your life.

4. Numbers don’t define you.

5. That includes the number you see that is your grade.

6. Also, how much you weigh.

7. As well as if you are a “7/10” on a so-called “hot scale.”

8. Or if you can bench press 200 lbs. (@ all the guys at the gym, please chill.)

SEE ALSO: 7 Reminders Every College Student Needs To Hear Before The Semester Ends

9. Innocence is nothing to be ashamed of.

10. Neither are mistakes.

11. But learn from your mistakes. Mistakes can be lessons, which can be the biggest blessing.

12. Your metabolism isn’t what it used to be and that is okay.

13. You may not always understand what God is doing, but I promise He has a plan.

14. Every person you meet is battling their own struggles.

15. Life isn’t always great moments.

16. But you have to walk through the forest to get to the mountain top.

17. Your heart isn’t damaged. It is temporarily broken but it will be fixed.

18. However, the only one who can fix a broken heart is the one who created it.

19. So a cute boy or hot girl can’t put the pieces back together.

20. Neither can ice cream.

21. But ice cream can totally help.

22. Stop texting your ex. He/She is your ex for a reason.

23. Loving Jesus means loving people.

24. Loving Jesus also means loving the image of Him in the mirror you see.

25. Stop hiding your emotions. Stop crying in the bathroom or behind a locked door. You have people in your life who care about you.

26. Suicide is never the answer.

27. Breathe in, breathe out.

28. Do you feel your heart pump? Do you feel the air exiting your body? That is a sign you are here for a purpose. Your life is no mistake.

29. Just because you doubt, doesn’t mean you don’t believe in Jesus.

30. However, when walking on the water scares you, look to Jesus and keep your eyes on Him.

31. If you have the opportunity to go to school go. There are young girls around the world who would do anything to sit at the desk you are complaining about.

32. Don’t pick a career based on money.

33. However, I promise you can use any passion or gift to serve a purpose bigger than yourself if you allow yourself to give it to the One who gave it to you.

34. You don’t need pretty prayers to please God.

35. Talk to Him like you are talking to a friend.

36. Look for the good in everyone.

37. That includes the mean girl who no one likes. Chances are she is mean for a reason. Someone was once mean to her. Kill her with kindness.

38. Pray to have the Lord’s eyes. See people with love.

39. Try to have the Lord’s hands, always be reaching out to others.

40. Each morning, pray to have the Lord’s feet and go where He calls you.

41. It is a bad day, not a bad life.

SEE ALSO: What It's Like To Be A College Student In April

42. You don’t need a six-pack to find a man who loves you.

43. You need a spouse who will be able to look at you when you are 80, and wrinkly and maybe a little chunky, and you need him to love you then. If he loves you for your body and your hair, I promise he doesn’t actually love you. Looks fade, but love is eternal. Find someone who loves you like Jesus.

44. Do some squats.

45. But squat so you feel good about yourself, not to attract the opposite sex.

46. You are never too old to find a new hobby.

47. You were beautiful before someone told you.

48. If you don’t know if you are in relationship or not, leave. You deserve clarity, not insecurity.

49. You deserve friendships that are mutual.

50. The best Friday nights are spent with a puppy and food. It is okay to not always be social.

51. Stop worrying about whether your crush will text you back.

52. Stop over analyzing everything in general.

53. Pray for your future spouse.

54. However, also pray for your future bridesmaids/groomsmen. Some of the most influential people you may have in your life you may not have even met yet.

55. Storms bring strength.

56. And storms bring rainbows if you are patient and observant.

57. Stop Pinteresting your dream life and start living it.

58. The Bible is actually extremely relatable. Open it up. Read it.

59. Romans 8:28 “and we know God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God is on your team. He wants you to have moments of celebration. He has a purpose for you greater than your bad day.

60. Never forget what Jesus did for you on that cross. When he died for you, it was painful and brutal. It was ugly. It was love. Don’t let that truth ever become numb to you no matter how many times you have heard the story.

61. There is nothing wrong with carbs.

62. Study. And don’t wait for the night before.

63. Find someone who you can look up to.

64. Also, never forget that there is always someone looking up to you. Act like someone you would want your future children to be. Act in a way that reflects wisdom.

65. Smile more, you are loved by the one who hung the stars and painted the sea. He created puppies and carbs–yet still loves you more. That is something to celebrate.

College is tough and life is hard. You are going to have moments where all you want to do is celebrate life with your best friends, but you will also have moments where you just want to lock the door, ignore everyone, and have a good cry. Never forget that your worth comes from something greater than your Biology grade, and from Someone greater that the one who broke your heart.

You aren’t too cool for Christ in college. Christ is a necessity for you in your life. He can hold your hand during your heartbreaks and failures and celebrate with you when you get the text back or a passing grade in foreign language. He loves for you and cares for you more than your sorority or fraternity ever will.

So buy your books, do your homework, but never forget when you are walking to you 8:00 a.m. you regretfully signed up for, to look up. Look at the clouds and the sky and thank your creator that in a big big world with many beautiful things, He still loves our messy hearts even more. So this one is for the boys for the King. This life is for the One who laid down His life.

I promise college is more fun when you dance with your Savior. Follow His lead and let him take you on a journey where you can find your purpose. You may not know where you are going, but you do know who you are following.

So never forget that although classes may be hard, and your metabolism may be slowing down–God is still good. He turns our ashes into beauty and our trials into our testimony. Do life with your creator and I promise you that you will have more than you need.

Romans 8:28 “And we know God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Check out my website for more articles on self-worth <3

Twitter: gracev96

Instagram: lemmebeyourvalentine

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Dealing With Death Is Challenging

But you have to be ok with it.


I recently went to go visit my family; five hundred and sixty miles and ten hours later, I was in New Castle, Indiana surrounded by cornfields, cows, a couple of antique stores, and a limited population. The semester is coming to an end, so it is complete madness in my classes, however, when my mother called me a few weeks ago telling me my grandmother has been admitted to hospice care frightened me so I had to go visit during this crucial time in her life.

Seeing my grandmother in an altered state was, to say the least, difficult. This once spunky woman that was full of life has been minimized to an oxygen mask that has to remain constantly with her and a cane that supports her walking.

During this time, I put my big girl smile on and tried to let it be known that I understood exactly what was going on. I stayed strong during the entire visit, for her and for my mother. It truly hit me the severity of it all when it dawned on me that this was my mother losing her mother. I forced myself to view this situation from my mother's perspective.

I've been fortunate to never lose a parent, but my father has lost both. I was very young when his father died, and I was twenty-three when his mother died. It was a rough time seeing my dad go through the turmoil of losing his mother. At the funeral, that's when all of the chaos hit me; my dad has been selfless for me my entire life it was my turn to be there for him. I shed my tears away from him.

During this visit, I again set aside my fears of losing a grandparent during this visit and was there for my mother. I took her out of the elements of caretaking and tried to make her smile. I stayed strong for her just so she knew she could focus on herself and not have to console her daughter.

I got a hundred miles down the road towards home back to Georgia and that's when I chose to mourn my grandmother's fate. It was difficult to stay strong, but I also felt proud. My family has taught me to be a strong and independent woman and during this tough time, that is who I have been.

Death challenges us in ways that we never thought possible. In those moments I try to remember who those people who leave us remember us to be.

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