Does it benefit to tell your doctor about your religion?

Author and teacher T. Thorn Coyle posted a comment on Google+ which got me thinking. “Educated my doctor about Paganism this morning. Why yes, I am an ambassador of good will!“

Being open with a doctor about your spirituality can provide better medical and social services. My primary physician is a Doctor of Osteopathy meaning he includes holistic medicine in his practice. I explained to him my beliefs and how they are important to my well being. Since he is a D.O. I was lucky he had many of the same ideas about the mind body connection.

It’s important to be comfortable with your doctor, talk with them, and have a doctor that will listen. I’m reminded of the late 80s early 90s TV series Doogie Howser M.D..

Doogie Howser M.D. poster
IMAGE: A poster for a TV series. Captioned in white: Doogie Howser, M.D. A teenage Neil Patrick Harris wears a white lab coat, friendly smile, and his arms are crossed with confidence.

Doogie Howser graduated from medical school and became a doctor when he was just a teen. There is an episode where an elderly couple has come in again because they have been feeling fatigued. Doogie becomes frustrated with their story of travelling to another country, their shopping trip, and the wonderful new serving dish, or was it a pitcher, I don’t remember. He talks with his dad, who is also a doctor, upset that he can’t find out what’s wrong. His dad asks Doogie to tell him everything the couple said then explains Doogie needs to be more compassionate with his bedside manor because people will give clues about what’s going on. In this case it could be as serious as lead poisoning.

Recently I had an issue with antibiotics effecting my psych medication and so my PTSD symptoms became serious.(The Tricky Mind and Body Connection) Herbal supplements can also effect medication or those such as genko and garlic have mild blood thinning side effects and need to be discontinued a week or so before surgery. (Dr. Briffa) When the nurse at the doctors office asks if you are taking anything over the counter, include any supplements.

Here are some tips for clearer communication:

During Your Visit
Tape-record your visit or bring a pencil and notebook to take notes. You also may bring a trusted friend or relative to take notes for you.
Keep your discussion focused, making sure to cover your main questions and concerns, your symptoms and how they impact your life.
Ask for clarification if you don’t understand what you have been told or if you still have questions.

Ask for explanations of treatment goals and side effects.

Ask if there is anyone else you should meet.
Is there another specialist that can fill in the gaps of your doctor’s knowledge?

Let your doctor know if you are seeing other doctors or health care providers.

For example, do you see an acupuncturist or an herbalist?

Share information about any recent medical tests.

Let your doctor know how much information you want and if you have religious or cultural beliefs that affect your treatment.

Stand up for yourself or have a friend or family member advocate for you if your concerns are not addressed.

Balance assertiveness with friendliness and understanding.

Of course how much you tell your doctor about your religion and practice is up to you. It isn’t necessary to say my Reiki master noticed some issues with my energy flow around my heart liver, is it time for a follow up metabolic panel?

Have any of you told your doctor about your beliefs? Why did you make a decision to tell them or not to.

May the inspiration and wisdom of air be a part of your good health.

incense
IMAGE: The scene is gently lit by a candle. On a pile of grey ash sits a coal with an ember of frankincense. Fragrant smoke rises from the resin. Wikicommons

About Tara "Masery" Miller

Tara "Masery" Miller is a Neo-Pagan panentheist Gaian mage living in the Ozarks with her husband and pets. She's also a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. She is the editor of Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul which you can find at Immanion press. www.immanion-press.com/info/books.asp She has a minor is religion from Southeast Missouri State Missouri State University with an emphasis in mysticism. Masery has lead various groups over the years and organized Pagan Pride Day events. Her magic and author page is at www.taramaserymiller.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Carron/100001353268347 David Carron

    Reality check: If I get more then 5 minutes with my doctor I’m doing well. Honestly, you can hold the holistic stuff as I’ll not be asking my doctor to give advise that outside the scope of medicine. I just want to get better.

    • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

      Diet, lifestyle choices, and a whole host of other factors can directly affect your health. I would rather my doctor look at my whole self rather than just a handful of symptoms or a diagnoses. Each their own, I suppose.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mmillerphoenix Mary Miller

    I am so glad you had this response by your doctor and could share this with him/her. In my world, maybe just because the doctors were specialists and primary care physicians, I was warned throughly that if I did not want to be locked up for a couple of months in a mental health facility, to keep my mouth shut about being a psychic and my spirituality. This was also echoed by a psychiatrist, who wanted to label me Schizotypal with religious grandiosity, because they still can. You need to be oh so careful what you reveal to your doctors, and take in consideration what the possible outcome could be by going there. Is it helpful for your doctor to be in on your spirituality? No different than the question you need to ask yourself when it comes to outing yourself sexually. In the end run, only you can determine and measure what repercussions you can face by “outing yourself’ spiritually, and being disabled only makes the matter far more difficult because there still is the stigma of not seeing us as adults (especially if you have a childhood disability, like Cerebral Plays).

  • Sunweaver

    In the case of my OB/GYN, it is absolutely relevant to making sure I get the right kind of care to tell her my religion. I don’t make a deal out of it, but if I can’t be at ease being a Pagan in her office, how am I going to be relaxed when she’s helping me deliver the offspring-in-progress? The pregnancy and birthing process is so intertwined with my faith, religion, and spirituality, that this is something she needs to know. Being Pagan means treating this process with due reverence and, more importantly, not freaking out when my fellow priestesses are helping me during the birth of my 2nd.


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