44 year Bella* (* name changed to protect privacy) had been having heavy bleeding during every period lasting for 10-15 days. Each time she would have to go a doctor to take medicines to stop the flow; leaving her weak and fatigued. She had already done an extensive Google search of the symptoms and had a fair differential diagnosis in mind. When she walked into the gynaecologists cabin, she was expecting to hear that she probably had an endometrial polyp or fibroids and would need a Dilatation and curettage procedure. But when the doctor told Bella she had an ‘Adenomyotic uterus’ that warranted a uterus removal surgery called Hysterectomy, she was thrown off guard and felt devastated. All kind of negative thoughts clouded her mind – could the doctor be trying to fleece her for money? Was a hysterectomy really needed? Would she land up with any further complications? Was it possible to defer the surgery for some time?
These thoughts were making her want to throw up and Bella had no one to turn to but her friends and family. No one in her near and dear ones, was a medico and she knew enough to not get swayed just by the opinions of lame non-medical people.
This scenario is very commonplace and most often patients land up going to other doctors in the vicinity and then starts a series of subterfuge and bluffing. For the fear of offending the earlier or the next doctor, patients often launch into lies and untruths about their condition and previous treatments often at the expense of their own health. Herein lies the value of a honest second opinion from a trusted medical source.
The importance of second opinions
Medical science is fast moving, and newer approaches may offer fewer side effects and shorter recovery time. Physicians’ training and experience with conditions and treatments vary.
At the same time, medicine is not an exact science. Tests can be inconclusive and there can be different approaches that are both effective. A physician combines knowledge about medicine and about you, the individual, to guide treatment decisions.
Second opinions can answer questions like:
- Is there someone with special expertise in my condition who might have something to add?
- Are there other options for treating this problem? What are the pluses and minuses of each, and which one is best for me?
- Do other doctors agree with the diagnosis and treatment plan?
- If test results aren’t clear, should they be repeated or are there other ways to find out?
- Is there a place where the cost of surgery fits my budget?
Whatever the reason for a second medical opinion, sometimes it is all that you need to put your uneasy mind to rest before you take that final plunge. Do not hesitate from second opinions when you feel you need to have more information or discuss any aspect of a problem/illness more thoroughly.