Does a technical writer make for the worst patient?
I was quick to put my technical writing experience and skills to work after I got my Thyroid removed. My goal was to become my #1 patient advocate. My first big culture shock was the differences in how the IT and medical community about how they troubleshoot issues.
Having been on my fair share of failing IT projects, I look for patterns when something wrong occurs. I call this the last plugged in/first unplugged method. The medical profession doesn’t prescribe to this method of troubleshooting. My current Endocrinologist and I communicate well. He understands (and maybe even appreciates) my technical writing background. Prior Endocrinologists were either dismissive of me and my post Thyroidectomy problems or told me not to worry so much.
I remember when I used to attend THYCA meetings. Another attendee brought up the fact that endocrinologists are chemists at heart and that influences how they diagnose patient issues. Until my current endocrinologist, I found that my communications and troubleshooting methods from the IT world didn’t mesh with Endocrinologists.
My information gathering and research skills also have come into play. I made extensive use of Evernote to capture and track information related to thyroid issues and my medical treatment. There were times I wish I did better in science when I was in school, but I am still learning until this day. Staying on top of all this information whether it is my research, insurance company correspondence, billing, and test results became a project unto itself. While I am in a good place with my current Endocrinologist, I still work to refine my research and stay informed. My technical writing experience gave me the tools to compensate for lack of a science degree.
Throughout it all, I came to understand, how some patients might get lost in the Thyroid industrial establishment and never get better. I saw how doctors can be skeptical of the symptoms thyroid patients describe.
Navigating the medical establishment to get the best treatment has been a challenge until my current Doctor. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am at if I didn’t put the communications, research, and online skills I learned as a technical writer.
Did I mention that I never liked seeing Doctors or getting needles? Both things are old hat now. I continue to adjust my strategy based on everything I learn from my research ever hoping to have a better connection with the medical establishment.
Hey there! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content development manager living and working in the Washington, DC area. After spending years focusing on technical and SDLC documentation, much of my work now focuses on thought leadership content and marketing collateral. My articles have been published by DevOps Agenda, Mobile Business Insights, TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, and others. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly.