That second set of ears belongs to Sharon Wolozin, who takes notes the old-fashioned way – with pen and paper – and then reads some of the main points aloud to confirm them with the doctor. If the patient forgets a question she told Wolozin she planned to ask, Wolozin will remind her. But she is not an advocate and has no medical training.
“We don’t get between the doctor and the patient,” said Wolozin. Her role is only to create an accurate record of what happened at the appointment that she gives to Couturier, who can then share it with her children or others.
One of the many times I thank God for a hearing wife is when I have a doctor’s appointment. To say it very bluntly at the start of this post, I haven’t come across many doctors who have the patience or understanding to effectively communicate with someone who is deaf. So, my wife goes to 95% of my doctor’s visits with me to tell me everything the doctor says. The other 5% are what this post is about.
On the occasions where I must go to a doctor on my own I struggle to get the doctor to understand that I am not a hearing person. If I ask him to write things down what comes out is usually just a few words. Something like “you need surgery”. Almost never a reason given until I emphatically press it. Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that doctors are without empathy for their patients. What I am saying is that they just don’t seem to have an understanding of it from the patient’s end, especially a deaf patient.
I have been going to the same primary care physician for almost fourteen years now and when I go without my wife the same thing used to occur. Like most doctors he only very reluctantly wrote limited things down for me to read. Fortunately we finally worked out a method of communications. Jessie, who is one of the more friendly nurses in the office, now is in the room taking thorough notes for me to read. When the doctor is talking too fast she slows him down so she can get it just right. Problem solved, that is at least for one of my many doctors.
Doctors and other medical personnel, like many others who deal with the general public, just don’t have the training to be sensitive to a hearing impaired persons needs. Some do much better than most. When someone gets obviously upset because I am apparently not following an order to lay this way or that. I now have a speech worked out. I tell them.
What if you were were in a hospital in Germany where no one spoke English. Would you be able to understand their instructions? If not you can imagine what I am going through right now.
This often times get them to finally realize that just repeating the same thing again doesn’t do any good.