I was in clinic today and a new patient cancelled. I had the chance to spend some extra time with Lisa, a patient that I am just beginning to get to know. We had a long discussion about the DOCC Project. Although she was initially resistant to the DOCC Project, we had an excellent, detailed discussion regarding the issues blocking her from fully engaging in the process. I pointed out to her that I have rarely seen a patient that does not have a lot of resistance to this project.
Our medical culture is geared toward concrete solutions. This is particularly true when you, the patient, have finally made up your mind to even see a surgeon and waited for some time to get an appointment. I realize that most of the time you are there to discuss the “definitive” solution of surgery. It is a major step. As soon as I mention that surgery is not a viable alternative, many patients become very upset. Then, when I begin to explain the various aspects of the pain experience, it is almost impossible for them to really hear me. You have been in pain for a long time and you just want your life back—now.
As reported by the Institute of Medicine, the elephant in the room is this: 116 million people living in United States suffer from chronic pain. Whatever is being done to treat chronic pain, it’s not working.
Lisa was able to work past her initial frustration with me over a couple of weeks. It became quickly apparent to me that she was an extremely organized, competent businesswoman who was able to grasp many of the smaller details of the DOCC process very quickly. She asked me many pointed questions. She also realized that her frustration with the many aspects of her situation was a major block to engaging in her journey back to health. Accepting things she could not control was going to be one of her first steps. In the course of the conversation, she came up with a notable quote she gave me permission to share with you.
“Every problem is a solution waiting to happen.”