CMHC Pulse Blog

Patient Perspective – Denial? Or Doctorly Deference?

“I was reminded of my own mother recently when an elegantly-dressed older woman in one of my audiences raised a beautifully manicured hand during the Q&A and asked me: ‘Carolyn, my doctor says I have a ‘heart rhythm’ problem. What does that mean?’ “I wondered at the time how this articulate, intelligent woman had managed to leave her doctor’s office without knowing anything about her diagnosis. The likely reason: she was very much like my own mother….”

But this apparent inability to understand the doctor is not unique to elderly women. When a cardiologist was called into the Emergency Department during my previously misdiagnosed heart attack and said to me the words “You have significant heart disease,” I could see his lips moving and I could hear sounds coming out of his mouth. But I honestly could not comprehend one word he said after that fateful pronouncement. I may have been nodding as if I understood. And I think I may have signed something, too…

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