Taking Time to Reflect

“ I’ve just had bad news from my doctor and can’t quite take it in. Is this normal? ”

Being diagnosed with an illness or suffering a relapse comes as a major emotional shock. For this reason, some people emerge from the doctor’s consulting room in some confusion, remembering little or nothing about it. Taking in and “digesting” a diagnosis of serious illness needs time, and so does decision-making about its treatment. As a rule, a doctor will break the news of a diagnosis on a different occasion from giving information about the illness and possible treatments.

  • Once you have the diagnosis, book a second consultation. Real urgency is rare, so make a point of asking your doctor for another appointment, so that he/she can explain the various aspects of the illness and its treatments.
  • Two heads are often better than one. If you feel the need, attend your appointments with your partner, a relative or friend. Be ready with your questions. This will help you not to lose the thread of your thoughts during the appointment.
  • Find out about the side effects of the treatment and how to mitigate them. Ask your doctor, of course, but also the patient associations (see List of resources).
  • When the doctor tells you the diagnosis and lets you know what treatment is envisaged, he or she should supply detailed information and leave you time to reflect. You are always free to opt out of the proposed treatment. That is why it is so important that you should be able to make a thoroughly informed decision.

Before consenting to a major operation or treatment, you have the option of referring to another doctor for a second opinion.
N.B.: basic health insurance does not always cover this advice. Find out more from your health insurance fund.