Overcoming the Fear of the White Coat
There are people who get very nervous when going to medical consultations. Not only because of the news you may receive regarding your health, but also because of what the specialist behind the desk, with his white coat and academic titles hanging on the wall, symbolizes.
Did You Know That There is “White Coat Hypertension”?
It is a condition in which a person’s blood pressure rises whenever they go to a medical visit, due to the stress they experience. This phenomenon can lead to diagnosing someone with hypertension who in fact does not actually have it.
That is how great the medical figure’s weight is, for some people. The hierarchical relationship that has been established for centuries indicates that the doctor is the one who knows, while we are ignorant. If we add to this that they often speak to us in technical terms that we do not know and they see us in a hurry because they have many other people to check on, real communication becomes more difficult to achieve.
On the side of the patient being consulted, for example, they often lie. “How many cans of soda do you drink a day?” Asks the doctor. “Two,” replies Laurita, who actually drinks a two-liter container of her favorite soda throughout the day.
On the specialist’s side, a monologue is often established. “I am the one who will analyze the information and who will make decisions about the case,” they seem to think, sometimes without giving space to listen to the concerns of the person consulting them.
But in the case of serious health conditions, like HIV infection, real communication is essential. And not only to provide the doctor with relevant data, such as those included in the questionnaires we have to answer but also to communicate two fundamental things: questions regarding the treatment and discomfort due to it.
Take Back Control of Your Health
If you have questions about how to take your medicine, ask. It doesn’t matter if they’ve told you before or if you think your question will sound “silly.” It is better to be certain than to use the treatment incorrectly and thus risk losing control of the virus in your body.
Since antiretroviral drugs are complex to use, be sure to inform your doctor about unwanted effects. Don’t be afraid to sound “whiny” if the nausea is becoming unbearable, if you have developed spots on one foot, or if you have pain that happens by barely touching your skin. Everything is relevant and, above all, your well-being is important, you shouldn’t have to live in fear of the white coat because you live with a chronic condition.
This is not a power struggle, but a joint strategy that will benefit you by helping you live a fuller life.
At AHF Latam & Caribbean centers and partners we have free medical consultations for our patients who live with HIV or have symptoms of STIs. Visit our Services section and locate your center in each country. Write to us via WhatsApp or schedule an appointment online.