It’s so comforting, the moment you realize the person sitting across from you truly understands what you’re trying to say about what life is like for you–because that person has lived it, too. This happened to me one day having tea with a dear friend. This friend is older than me and married with a family, but struggles similarly with issues that have landed us both in counseling for years.
I explained to this friend how grateful I am that I have a great counselor, a great pastor, and a great doctor. She nodded and said knowingly, “We really need that complete package.” In this series of three posts, I want to highlight why each of these three are important to find–especially so if you are single and on your own in life.
The Doctor: Finding a great doctor may not seem that important. I was satisfied for a time with doctors who were adequate. I didn’t need them for much, and I certainly didn’t need them to know me apart from my medical charts or to assess me in any way other than my physical health. Sure, I usually felt like little more than a number, but that was fine with me. That is, until two things happened 1) a nurse practitioner made a mistake that cost me several hundred dollars, not to mention time and stress dealing with the incompassionate doctor’s office and the insurance company (which never gave in) and 2) I found myself dealing with issues that needed the attention of a doctor I could trust and that made me feel safe.
Thankfully, some really wonderful people from my church recommended a unique new independent practice started by two doctors (doctors who happened to be friends with several of these wonderful people). It was a bit of a drive for me to get there, but the drive was–and has been–more than worth it. As I sat anxiously in the examination room, my doctor burst in with a huge smile and said, “We have the same birthday!” I immediately felt at ease, and continued to feel so as he listened patiently and compassionately (and handed me the tissue box when I started crying) and asked specific questions to make sure he understood what I was saying. My visits since then have been no different… the most poignant of which occurred after my father passed away, when my doctor, knowing that there was no amount of physical care that could lessen my pain, simply prayed with me.
My point is–you never know when you are going to come upon a health situation or life crisis when you need to be more than a number. Furthermore, if you’re on your own like I am, when those situations come, you are your only advocate–and whatever the issue, you will most likely not have the wherewithal to advocate for yourself. You need an established relationship with a doctor that sees you as a person. Ask around. Don’t hesitate to try more than one practice. It may be a hassle, but you will benefit, whether now or in the future.