Almost everyone has had an experience with going to the doctor at one point in life. Maybe it was the time you were a toddler and you have not been since teenage years, or going for your annual cholesterol check-up. We have all had to budget for that faithful doctor’s visit.
Some persons have no problem with going to the doctor and describe those appointments as enjoyable like they have a ‘best friend forever’ relationship with their general practitioner. However, others are not as lucky as they have acquired a fear of doctor visits that even the mere thought sends them into frenzy. Maybe it is not as serious as the actual medical term for fear of doctors, Iatrophobia, but for some the anxiety is so great that they avoid most, if not all, forms of health care altogether.
Here are some of the most common fears of Caribbean Islanders visiting the doctor:
Fear of Bad News or being in denial that they migh have a medical problem
No one wants to hear bad news and while the probability that the common cold can develop into pneumonia is slim for the average person, no one wants to hear they are dying.
Also, we have a sense of denial that something is wrong because we all want to believe that we are healthy beings immune to any sort of illness and disease. Whether it’s because we eat right, maintain a stress-free lifestyle, and/or exercise daily, the ideology that nothing can harm seems to be the mantra of some.
“My mom hid a lump on her breast, she thought it was just an allergic reaction and it turned out to be breast cancer and it got so bad that it couldn’t be treated after that…I don’t know why she didn’t just make an appointment or keep up with the mammogram exams, it could’ve saved her…But then getting the news that you had cancer was probably very traumatic for her.” – Bajan
On the other side of the coin, some person’s fear of bad news will make them anxious and believe that they are dying. One way to counteract that thought is to think of the possibility that if you go to the doctor, their experience and professional expertise might assure you that you are fine. You will be relieved to know that your good health will grant you residence on this earth longer than expected.
Affordability without health insurance
Without health insurance, doctor’s fees can be very expensive; filling a prescription for medication can also prove to be big hurdle to overcome. Not to mention the chances of having to have surgery, hospital admittance, or buy some costly medical items. There is need for cutting back on your expenses and save for health needs. Depending on the arrangement with your health insurance provider you can get up to 20-40% of your doctor’s visit paid and up to 80% of your hospital fees covered along with medication.
Afraid of injections, or the sight of blood
Some persons who hate going to the doctor may be of the belief that they will get an injection or have to draw blood at some point—unfortunately, this fear is a realistic possibility—because to examine one’s internal system and run certain tests it is essential to take a blood samples but some don’t want to hear that.
Same is true for the injections – to fight against viruses and diseases, an injection or vaccine helps the body’s immune system in more ways than one.
“As long as I remember I have feared injections… I legit scream when I have to take an injection and that is after squirming for half an hour from looking at the needle…I feel like it’s going to hurt so bad…I just hate the overall experience” – Jamaican
Bad experience from past visit
Yes, you remember that time you ate some bad pizza and had diarrhea for days, or that time you had an outfit malfunction in front of hundreds of persons at the New Year’s party. We all remember the bad experiences in our lives and try our hardest to not have a re-occurrence. If we have had a bad experience at the doctor’s office; we avoid seeing the doctor or there is reluctance when making an appointment.
“The last time I went to the doctor she did an examination that rubbed me the wrong way if you know what I mean and I was so uncomfortable for days…Worst, she was the type of person to laugh at me and call me a baby for feeling awkward…I have not been back since, I guess it’s an association with that time.” – Aruban
Think that they can cure any ailment with home remedies
With the rise in the use of home remedies being a cheaper alternative to medication (although it doesn’t work as fast), medical self-diagnosing mobile apps— not to mention Google— we stay clear of the doctor. From arrow root, ginger, cinnamon and other natural substitutes, Caribbean people will find a way to cure themselves with their granny’s remedies passed down for generations.
“Yea man, if I’m not feeling well home remedy du di ting. Draw likkle cerasee and take some cinnamon and honey fa flu or herbs.” – Jamaican
Don’t take medicine; so they are reluctant to get evaluated or embarrassed
If going back isn’t expensive enough, it’s going back to be re-evaluated and since you didn’t take your medicine as prescribed you feel embarrassed when the doctor gives you that look. We all have had that stare as the doctor shakes her/his head in disappointment and that will make anyone feel like they should have just sat that visit out. Fear not, they need to know you’re getting better and the medicine worked, so take as prescribed, and go back feeling confident or just lap your tail and take the look.
Think they can use a previous prescription
To save money and the fact that they have the same symptoms as last time, for example the common cold, and the medicine did not finish they feel they can just take that and be cured. This is another reason persons just don’t go to the doctor.
“Why I gon’ to de doctor when I can jus take wah dey gave me de last time. I only get de flu, nuttin’ serious, so I not spendin’ $50 [USD] jus to have dem tell me I have de flu and to take de same ting I know to take. *steups*” – Trinidadian
All in all, even if you are not thrilled to go see your medical professional, at some point you have to. It is easier and less expensive to have regular checkups than to find out later that you have a chronic illness or degenerative disease. No one loves being sick but it is a part of life. Doctors have studied long and hard to ensure that you get the best medication available to treat whatever ailment you face.
If there is a way to overcome your fear of doctors it is advised that you take a serious look into doing that. It’s better to know than worry unnecessarily.
A healthy you is a happy you.
By Alexandra Daley