Mr SO walked into the doctor’s consulting room on account of a minor complaint. His blood pressure was checked during the evaluation of the systems in his body. The following conversation ensued.
Doctor: “Sir, your blood pressure is 190/120mmHg. Have you been told you were hypertensive?”
SO: “God forbid oo. I am not hypertensive. But the doctors have told me about three times that my blood pressure was higher than the normal.”
Doctor: “Didn’t they tell you that having repeated elevation of blood pressure at or above 140/90mmHg meant that you were hypertensive?”
SO did not respond to the doctor’s last question. The doctor then asked him if there was any difference between six and half a dozen since he, SO, was particular about the choice of words. SO again had no response.
Many of us are like Mr SO. We refuse the medical terms that describe the health conditions we experience. Some people deny the term, diabetes, despite knowledge of repeatedly elevated blood sugar. So many medical terms have been denied by individuals affected by one health condition or the other.
The following are some of the reasons people deny or refuse medical terms description of their health conditions.
1. The term is vague to them.
2. They are not sure they will understand what the medical condition is or the term describing it. However, most of them had never made effort to ask questions from health personnel. So denying the term gives apparent comfort.
3. Some don’t want to be associated with people who have accepted the medical term.
4. Anxiety about the lifestyle changes and other treatment methods that will be recommended.
5. Concern about the cost of treatment.
6. Religion forbids many people to accept that a medical condition lurks in their bodies.
No matter what the fears are, the fact remains that a medical condition, irrespective of what medical or English term it is called, needs to be attended to. Gone are the days people assure themselves that what they do not know will not kill them. Nothing can be more untrue.
The following are the implications of denying medical terms description of unwanted experiences in our physical, social, and mental health.
1. Most affected persons will not take the necessary action in time.
2. Failure to take prompt action most times makes the disease condition progress unchecked till complications set in.
3. The early symptoms suggesting that the disease is present are still experienced despite the denial.
4. Loss of productive hours as a result of untreated medical conditions.
5. When the individual finally accepts the medical condition and its terminology, treatment most times is now more expensive due to progress of the disease.
6. Avoidable death may occur.
Below are the orderly steps to take when faced with denial of a medical condition.
1. Identify a doctor who is a friend, an acquaintance, or family member, and express your fears. If you do not know a doctor, ask to be introduced to one. The familiar environment that is created would help understanding.
2. Identify those you know who have the medical condition and ask them about their experience with the disease and its management.
3. Go online to read about people’s experiences about the disease. There are numerous help sites where people talk about their fears and how they have managed similar conditions. The information you get will help relieve your anxiety and encourage you to take the necessary action.
4. Do an objective analysis of how much treatment costs. Ask health personnel or persons managing the condition about options of payment for the treatment (out-of-pocket payment versus buying health insurance).
5. Consult the nearest qualified doctor you can find in a clinic or hospital where confidentiality can be ensured.
6. If things still remain unclear, seek a second or a third opinion from doctors.
7. Ensure that you stick to every detail of the doctor’s recommendations.
8. If you experience any side effects of use of medication(s), discuss with the doctor immediately. Do not guess which medication you may be reacting to.
9.Those who would rather resort to religion should pray for healing while still doing the above mentioned recommendations.
All the above measures will ensure a healthy and productive life for almost everyone.
Dr Ademola Orolu is a Consultant Family Physician. He holds the Fellowship of The West African College of Physicians. He is also an Associate Fellow of The National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. He is in active clinical practice. He is a writer, a patient advocate, and has a passion for health education. He is the Medical Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nathaniel Health Consulting (a family hospital), Matogun, Ogun State. He is the editor-in-chief of The Family Doctors. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org