Ask Abbie: How do I tell my doctor ‘goodbye?’

Published 11:26 am Saturday, March 2, 2013

By Abbie Long

Question: I have been going to the same doctor for years.

I recently told him I had a health concern and would like him to run tests. He agreed, but seemed offended and got a bad attitude.

I’ve been thinking about changing my doctor for a while. When this happened I knew I needed to do something, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings.

I’ve even gotten so I dread going to the doctor.

What should I do?

Answer: Jim woke up after a restless night. He had been dreading the morning’s meeting with Don. He just couldn’t seem to communicate with him.

Five miles down the road, Ed woke up to a beautiful sunny morning. He also had a separate meeting with Don, but unlike Jim, enjoyed his time with Don. He felt like Don cared about him and was a good listener.

After both men’s meetings, Jim left with a substantially higher blood pressure.

Many studies have revealed that blood pressure levels that elevate with a visit to the doctor’s office are temporary and a result of increased anxiety. It has also been determined that repetitive temporary elevated blood pressure levels can be just as detrimental to one’s health as chronic hypertension because they damage the heart, brain, kidneys and arteries.

One way for a patient to lessen White Coat Syndrome, or the temporary jolts to blood pressure associated with a visit to the doctor, is to ensure he respects and is comfortable with his doctor.

I believe 90 percent of what happens is beyond one’s control while the remaining 10 percent is how one reacts. Within this 10 percent is where stress and anxiety originate and reside, for neither are what happen to a person, but rather the individual’s negative response to what happens.

One must choose a positive rather than a negative reaction if one intends to live as a victor and not a victim.

Any anxiety you are experiencing is a result of your choice to adopt the negative defeatist response of staying with your doctor.

Remember Jim? He is allowing unnecessary stress to negatively affect his health. Don’t be like him. Adopt a more positive healthy reaction by finding a doctor you are at ease with and trust. Your health will thank you.

Do not confront your doctor with your decision until you can do so with convincing and immovable confidence. Remember, your energy will dictate the tone for the meeting.

Bring positive energy for positive results. If you approach the situation prematurely and with insecurity, he will likely sense your weakness and attempt to make you question your decision or feel guilty.

One way to help maintain positive energy throughout your conversation is to avoid using the word “you” when speaking to him. This strategy keeps the tone of the dialogue from seeming “accusational” and helps convey the reason for your decision as being a choice on your part to take your health seriously, without reproach, and as a gift that must be cherished, and not as a result of something he did.

Should you need comforting confirmation, remember Don.

No one doctor can be a perfect match for every patient. Any good doctor knows this and is happy to put personal feelings aside for the well-being of his patient.

In the unfortunate event life deals your health a bad hand, you will need to apply your effort toward being victorious over the diagnosis and not toward being frustrated about a strained relationship with your doctor.

In addition, the sooner you start looking for a new doctor, the better. Once your new relationship is established, you will know where to go for an emergency and will not waste a single potentially life-threatening moment having to stop and ask for directions.

Abbie Long is a Franklin native and advice columnist for The Tidewater News. Submit your questions to