Two weeks ago, we had an 80 year old lady reach out to us looking for an upper cervical chiropractor in North Lakes.
When we got in touch with her last week, we asked how she was doing and what the results of her tests were. Here’s what she said: “So I did the scans, and my GP said that they’re fine. Just a lot [degenerative] arthritis, and that there’s nothing I can do about that. So I’d like to cancel my appointment please.”
I’m not upset about the fact that she wants to cancel her appointment. That is her choice and right to do so. The reason I’m upset is because her case reminds me of so many other people I’ve seen over the years, how have been to GPs, specialists and other healthcare providers to be told, “There’s nothing you can do about your health.”
And so they give up before they even try!
Okay, so this particular lady had lots of degenerative arthritis. That’s common for 80 years! … But arthritis doesn’t appear overnight, and she only started to experience migraines a month ago. In other words, there is likely something else going on that may have nothing to do with the arthritis at all! It’s been my observation from over 10 years in practice (and a few thousand clients) that there is no a correlation between arthritis and the level of pain that people experience. Some people with wretched arthritis report that “it’s just a bit stiff and tight.” Other people with almost no damage at all report terrible pain like happens with fibromyalgia.
And it’s not just my experience. There’s also research to backup that pain is a multifactorial experience that isn’t just a matter of arthritis. (1,2,3) What bothers me the most about this story is how a trusted medical practitioner can say just one thing - i.e., “There’s nothing you can do about it” - and as a result this lady has given up hope that she can be better. I’m reminded of advice that one of my university lecturers said years ago: “Never take away hope from a patient.”
5 Things to Look for in Good Doctor
Now, I don’t know if I’d have been able to help her - no one has a magic bullet - but to suggest that there’s nothing that can be done, that’s horrible advice! So what I want to share with you are some of the things you want to look for as positive attributes to know that you have a good medical doctor, specialist or your other healthcare provider on your side …but if not,you may want to seriously consider switching providers. Note: I am not immune here either, but I do the best I can to follow this code too!
1. Your healthcare provider offers realistic hope.
Not a dangerous or false hope, but genuine care that will allow you to have the best possible outcome based on your current circumstances. We do not know everything about the human body. Collectively, we know more than any written period in history, but we still have a long way to go. Until we have a complete understanding of life - and discover a way to escape time and gravity - it may not be realistic to “fix” your condition 100%.
But if it's possible to be better than you are now - no matter what you have going on - it’s up to you and your healthcare provider to work together to find the best possible solution for you. Hope with a vision for a brighter tomorrow may not solve your health challenges, but they are the foundations for progress.
2. Your healthcare provider is open to possibilities beyond their field of expertise.
A medical doctor is an expert in health and medicine. A chiropractor is an expert in health and the spine. A cardiologist is an expert in health and the heart. A nutritionist is an expert in health and nutrition. We are all experts in health, but with different perspectives and specific additional fields of expertise. When it comes to the human body and healing, without ego, I’d say that I know lots of stuff! That said, I don’t know everything. No one does! Traditionally, doctors are taught never to say the phrase, “I don’t know.” I believe that trend has been changing over the years. Doctors are human too. And there are plenty of times when I also say, “I don’t know.” … But just because I don’t have all the answers does not mean that there is no an answer.
Read about this in a previous article, The Combination Lock.
Even when things don’t always make sense to us (i.e., healthcare providers) because of our limited knowledge, we must learn to encourage people to be active in their own heath to seek solutions if we aren’t able to help them despite our best efforts. Yes, this may involve steering people towards or away from certain things (e.g., I don’t expect all GPs to love chiropractors, as an example) … but what it must involve is a direction of some kind to explore the possibilities instead of limiting people to the false conclusion that “there’s nothing that can be done.” Make sure that your healthcare providers are open to the possibility that you can be better ... even if it isn't with them.
3. Your healthcare provider is not a lazy thinker.
The best medicine is not just about treating symptoms. It’s about identifying the root cause of your condition and empowering you with the tools you need to take care for your own self. Now, if you choose to disregard good health advice, that is your responsibility. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of your provider to give that advice in the first place, always striving to make your best better.
4. Your healthcare provider performs tests before reaching conclusions.
Symptoms can be very misleading. It's possible to develop the same symptoms, but because two completely different things have happened, each requiring very different treatment to resolve. Even basic tests go a really long way. Unfortunately, there is a current trend in medical care to move away from preliminary testing because it “costs too much.” Now, I’m not talking about tests that don’t offer any valuable clinical information. You don’t need those. But to dismiss the entire assessment process is insane! You might as well start throwing darts at a target in the dark! Then it will cost even more money and time to undo the damage done by not knowing what’s happening in the first place.
The best providers I know do some kind of testing before prescribing any medication, therapy or procedure. It doesn’t even have to be complicated, but some kind of analysis to determine what you actually need - and not solely based on your symptoms - is critical! And when it comes to your healthcare, I hate guessing! The best providers I know do some kind of testing before prescribing any medication, therapy or procedure. It doesn’t even have to be complicated, but some kind of analysis to determine what you actually need - and not solely based on your symptoms - is critical!
5. Your healthcare provider resonates with you on a human level.
There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” human being. Some people you get along with the moment you meet them. Other people, you get a vibe that something is off. It’s like music: metal, rap, classical, country. Different styles for different people.
There is no wrong: only not right for you.
Would you marry someone you don’t get along with? Hopefully not! Same thing goes when selecting your doctors, who will be working with you on something as precious as your health! Just because a person has professional qualifications and knowledge does not make them your superior. You may trust their expertise, but you must also trust your own innate sense when it comes to people. I wish I could offer a more concrete description that this, but I imagine you know what I’m talking about. You can’t disregard your own inner doctor!
I’ll say it again to be completely transparent. I don’t have all the answers when it comes to healthcare. I’m not some guru or saviour. I am an upper cervical chiropractor. Full stop. I also know that I’m not the perfect fit for everyone in the world either. I’m just human, and make mistakes too! But honest mistakes, and always to the best of my ability. My personality is also generally “intense,” and yeah, I can be moody. Some days I just don’t like talking to people (which is kind of hard in a healthcare setting). Still, I do the best that I can … and even though I may occasionally have an “unfortunate personality,” the constant that people don’t always realise through it all is that I care.
I love the work that I do. I love seeing change in people. I love seeing the changes in their lives. And sometimes, that means in order to get that change it’s going to take more than me! And I’m cool with that! I wish only that my industry would embrace that same way of being: i.e., that is okay to be a doctor and to be human at the same time. That way - even if it means stepping outside our own selves - it will help all of our clients to achieve the level or satisfaction, health and life that they deserve.And at the end of the day, that's who it’s all for. If you are looking for an upper cervical chiropractor in North Lakes, Brisbane - or simply a healthcare professional you can trust, who will give you an independent opinion - contact us to find out how we can help you.
- Fu K, Robbins SR, McDougall JJ. Osteoarthritis: the genesis of pain. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2018 May 1;57(suppl_4):iv43-iv50. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kex419.
- Thakur M, Dickenson AH, Baron R. Osteoarthritis pain: nociceptive or neuropathic? Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2014 Jun;10(6):374-80. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2014.47. Epub 2014 Apr 1.
- Read SJ, Dray A. Osteoarthritic pain: a review of current, theoretical and emerging therapeutics. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2008 May;17(5):619-40. doi: 10.1517/13543718.104.22.1689.
Dr Jeffrey Hannah is the Upper Cervical Chiropractor in North Lakes, servicing the greater Brisbane area.