Could a health ‘translator’ get you understood by your doctor?

It can be hard to have a real conversation with some medical professionals.

If you’re dealing with a complex health issue, both you and your doctor can be under pressure in different ways.

You are unwell, stressed and probably way outside your realm of expertise.  You may also fall into old patterns of dealing with authority or ‘doctor knows best’.

Your doctor may well be trapped in a system of short appointments, with a huge work load. So he or she may not have the time or concentration to fully listen, explore new options or explain what’s going on.

You can take a friend or family member to help in the conversation, but they still may not have the health education to ask the right questions, the experience to see the whole picture or the confidence to question authoritatively (and respectfully).

Getting beyond the standard ‘answers’

I’m a naturopath so the people who come to see me do so because the ‘standard procedure’ of mainstream medicine isn’t getting them well.  We look at their whole life and health as a system that needs adjustment. Some of the possible adjustments need the tools of mainstream medicine to inform them.

It can take courage and concentration to face a GP or specialist and say “i want to try something different” because you feel like you’re saying “you’ve got it wrong”.

I’m an advocate for wellness

One of the services I’ve found my patients really value is advocacy.  Like the translator in a UN peacekeeping force – I listen to you with understanding; I listen to your doctor’s technical language; interpret to you what’s being said; and add in the additional possibilities of a whole-systems view.

Either by writing or in person, I help my patients communicate with their health professional differently.  I interpret the whole system view of their health, and advocate for alternatives.

This plays out differently in different cases.  For example:

  • One patient needed courage to ask to postpone a course of medication with big side effects.
  • Another patient had intermittent pain that wasn’t being investigated


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