You have a voice!
Finding a family physician can be a difficult task as a mom. Often, we are sent to family doctors because they are accepting patients and you are made to feel like there is no choice when deciding who plays a role in the health of your family. Sometimes we see the same doctor for years because our busy lives have made it difficult to put the effort in to seeing another one. Sometimes moms just don’t know that a good family doctor should be one who knows you, knows your kids, and takes time to listen to you when you book an appointment.
I am a huge advocate for a trustworthy family doctor
When I was experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety, My family physician (Dr. Dee) was the person who recognized that I wasn’t coping well. My well-baby visits was when Dr Dee would see that I was struggling and would ask me how I was doing at home, how I was sleeping, and if I was able to feel happy around my children. I was struggling to cope and before I could accept that I was feeling unwell, Dr. Dee took time to notice how I was managing. She took the initiative to say “I think you should come back and talk to me in a few weeks”. And I trusted her because she is kind, caring and was invested in my family’s health.
As time went forward and I struggled further with anxiety and depression, Dr. Dee found every tool in her toolbox to help me— medication, therapy, massage, planning for self-care. Dr. Dee saw how hard parenting was in that moment, and didn’t judge me but instead gave support. Part of her care plan involves recognizing the parenting positives, even when I couldn’t see myself that I am a great mom.
One of my darkest days came when I was visiting Dr. Dee for an ear infection. She came in the room and asked if I was okay—- and goodness, the floodgates opened. I was not okay. I was so clouded by darkness that I could not see any light at the end of the tunnel. She asked if I felt safe and my answer was no— something I didn’t feel comfortable admitting to anyone, even myself. “But I’m here for an ear infection”, I told her. Dr. Dee sat down in the chair beside me, took my hand and said that she was going to get me the help I needed.
My family doctor was a lifesaving asset to my family because she took the time to listen to me.
In Canada we are so lucky to have our health care covered. This is a luxury and a gift that I will never take for granted. Also, you have choice when connecting with a family doctor.
Consider the “meet and greet” as a time that you can decide if you connect with your doctor as well. Ask them about their experience and if they have an interest in pediatric or maternal care. Ask about where they went to school and how long they have been working as a family doctor. This is your time and health— you deserve to know who is caring for you.
Trust your mom-gut. Always. You bring your child in because you’re worried. No one’s first choice of activities on a Friday afternoon is sitting in a doctor’s office— so ensure that your doctor is listening to you and listening to the entire scenario when you’re talking.
Bring a list of questions and write down the physician’s answers so you can read it over later that evening if you’re still worried. This will be helpful as well if you have to come back and you’re seen by a different doctor.
Respect goes both ways. I tend to give doctors a run for their money, especially when it comes to my kids. I ask a lot of questions and I also have a lot of respect for educated answers. I find that manners and being polite goes a really long way for maintaining good relationships with doctors and their respect is really beneficial to me as well.
Most importantly, you have the right to feel heard when you see your family doctor. You have every right to come in as often as you need and want and you should never apologise for asking for help. Sometimes we are asking for help without actually asking and a good family doctor will notice this.
To all of the doctors like Dr. Dee please know how special you are in the lives of the families you help. Your work is hard and often thankless, but you save and improve lives and that doesn't go unnoticed.
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