“How do you feel?”
A common question for a doctor or a nurse to ask a cancer patient isn’t it?
The answer is the tough part. This is what separates the good ones from the great ones, if you ask me.
So many patients don’t answer correctly. I’m not saying they don’t answer honestly, they just don’t answer correctly. Because the question is so expected when a physician or a nurse enters the room, the answer is fairly predictable too. If the person isn’t in agony, they usually answer with a meek “OK” or “Pretty good.” Maybe there might be a hint of some pain, but even then, the words lean toward a description of mild discomfort over serious pain.
The ‘better than good’ docs and nurses pick-up on the body language, the cloudy eyes, the sweaty forehead and even read between those words to figure out they’ve got a patient in pain.
They’ve got a patient who isn’t “OK.”
And this is where the care giver plays a big role too. You know your patient better than the medical team. Speak up. If your loved one is asked to rate the pain and the answer is a “2” and you know that a two really translates to an “8,” don’t hesitate to share that information. Speak up.
So many things are going on in a body fighting cancer.
No one really feels “OK.” Very few really feel “Pretty good.”
“How do you feel?” should really be replaced by “So, what’s bothering you and let’s see if we can make it better.”