Big Scary Words

I remember taking medical terminology and thinking about the ridiculousness of some of the terms. Fifteen syllable words should not exist as far as I’m concerned unless we are singing a song made popular by Mary Poppins. My grandmother taught me the word sternocleidomastoid when I was seven. It is the name of a muscle in your neck, named for its origin and insertion.  Imagine if a doctor told you that you had something wrong with your sternocleidomastoid and you didn’t know what that meant. You would probably be terrified when really he was just trying to explain you pulled a muscle in your neck.

Going to the doctor and getting a diagnosis can be intimidating, frightening, and daunting. There is a saying: “Diagnosis kills.” People hear a big word and see their world come crashing down. However, many of the big words don’t even mean anything concrete. Some of them are even fancy terms for “we don’t know.”

I am writing about this because a close family member of mine just went to a doctor who chose to scare them instead of speak plainly. Unfortunately, there are some doctors out there who will write letters and make phone calls not to protect you but to protect themselves. Medical malpractice suites have the doctors scared and in turn some of them are scaring you. I have friends that have been called bad mothers in the delivery room for asking for some time to think about the care they wanted for their babies. Minutes after their babies are born nurses want to fill their newborn with vaccinations. If you choose to take some time to think about it they are going to throw the gauntlet of scary possibilities at you. Most of which are very unlikely. It is important that the doctor describe all possibilities to you but you should know that you always have options, and a lot of them.

The point is not to point fingers at the medical community or any doctor in particular. I think we are all doing the best we can. However, please have a doctor you know and trust. One that you feel has your best interest at heart and is willing to sit down with you and explain their findings without the big words. Make sure all this happens before you go under the knife, drill, or through the CAT scan. Also, always remember that there is someone who knows more about your health than anyone else, even your doctor, and that person is you. Trust yourself first.


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