Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dr. Chun Hwang...Pre-Date Jitters

I am so, so nervous for my first appointment with Dr. Hwang tomorrow afternoon. I even spent time this afternoon considering what to wear! I am as anxious for this introduction as I have been for first dates!!

Medically, I have heard nothing but reports of reverence and awe in regards to his knowledge, skills, and technical approach to dealing with patients in my situation. Former patients, local and distant, have sent his name as a referral as well as 2 friends who have worked directly with him at the hospital. Knowing that the man is aka the "human robot" provides just about as much consolation as one can hope for before he enters your heart to burn misbehaving sections with a wire.

Personally, I have been informed that he is direct and dry in his approach to bedside. I was also warned to brace myself for possible unintentional insults. While I recognize that warmth in tone can often be lost in cultural translation, I am also beginning to better understand that this might be par for the course when dealing with cardiologists...and that hasn't been working for me so well.

I have a lot of questions about my diagnosis, about the symptoms, about the treatments, about the long and short-term care, about restrictions, about success rates, about worst case scenarios, about co-morbidities etc., etc. And I have been told, in not so many words, that my insatiable appetite for information, education, and details is uncommon for the majority of patients with my condition. But the average age of these individuals is double my own. Every technician and nurse that I have interacted with in the last two months has made some kind of comment or reference to my youth. I am told over and over again that they rarely, if ever, see patients so young. I guess you could call me a trailblazer?

Anyhow, I feel strongly that my hunger for information is indicative of my generation. Contrary to the majority of the more senior demographic, my counterparts and I are heavily influenced by a culture that provides endless sources of data. Conversations about any topic from sports, to food, to history, to entertainment, to politics, to the definition of words are often put on hold while someone "Googles that"...shouldn't seem surprising that this would spill on over to medicine.

The fact that specialists in the medical field prefer to have their patients unconscious or unquestioning can't last forever...I don't think my generation will allow it. If we don't receive satisfactory information directly from the docs, we will naturally seek to satiate ourselves online. And shouldn't we be seeking to play an active role in our own health care? Wouldn't that be preferential behavior from diseased patients?

Certainly I don't mean to suggest that the education come directly from the doctor. I understand that their training and skills are directed to hands-on activity and not education, but it is only a matter of time (short time) that patient educators or advocates will be demanded as part of the basic package for health care. (In fact, it sounds like a possible perfect career for me to create for myself!)

My point is, I feel more than lucky to have access to one of the most skilled doctors dealing with A-Fib...but I'm nervous about the inter-personal interaction. I had a good laugh when speaking to a friend this afternoon for a pre-appointment coaching session when she summed it all up with "just be yourself" girlfriend pre-date advice, right?

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