I know exactly where he's coming from because we've been visiting doctors together for years. It's frustrating and confusing to him because the consulting doctor works in a highly technical world described in terms not used by mere mortals. On more than one occasion, my husband has offered a string of computer jargon in jest from his own field of study to the harried doc which typically sounds something like this:
"I suggest that we implement an asynchronous binary ripple counter using a shift-right register, zero-add pack algorithm using a set of four parallel 8-bit processors with enabled sign bit registers employing J K flip flops.'
His intention is to highlight the absurdity of the vocabulary being offered him by a health care practitioner who talks too fast or assumes a base knowledge of eight college-level courses in anatomy beyond my husband's training in the biological sciences.
When my husband is lucky, the doc slows down and chooses more easily decipherable words. However, more often than not, I get to be the secret-decoder ring for my husband after our consultation with the doctor concludes. The five years I spent studying medical technology in college does not contribute to our household income today, but it certainly gives me invaluable insight into medical literature and comprehension during medical consultations.
Being immersed in medical jargon during a consultation with a specialist is like diving into deep waters. It can be scary, disorienting, intimidating and unnerving. It helps to have someone or something serve as your secret-decoder ring, to translate what the doctor is saying to you.
Bring Your Smart Phone
If you are intimidated because of your non-medical background, it may prove helpful to:
- Tap a friend who serves in the medical field to accompany you to a few key appointments with specialists.
- If the friend is unavailable at the time of the consultation, or even if you have no such friend, take pictures of the medical documentation (e.g., test results) and record the consultation with the specialist using a smartphone application like Evernote so that you can refer to it afterwards. This can help replay the consultation later with your medically-minded friend or provide a basis for your own research using the Internet or other resources.
- If the specialist is not agreeable to being recorded, you can also use your cell phone to make a conference call to your medically-minded friend to have them hear what you are being told.
An objective and trained ear may think to ask questions that you are unable to formulate as you are having a deer-in-headlights experience. If you experience brain-lock while trying emotionally and intellectually to process the implications of diagnosis and future interventions, your medically-minded escort is also far more likely to remember the details shared.