Can You Ask Your Healthcare Provider To Adapt Their Treatments?

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The short answer is “yes”.

What you request, when you request it, and how you request it are important things to consider if you want to use adaptations successfully to reduce your fear, pain, and risk of being triggered.

Not every treatment can be significantly adapted.  For example, injections still need to be injected.  There are methods that decrease pain, such as cold spray or use of the Buzzy device.  But they usually only diminish the pain of injection, and cannot be used in every type of injection.  If you know an adaptation that has worked for you in the past with a treatment, then ask for it in future treatments.  But be aware that it may not work exactly the same way every time.  Have confidence, but don’t have unfettered hope.

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Some providers are more open to adaptations than others.  And some may have adaptive ideas they come up with in the moment, once you have expressed the desire for them to alter their treatment to help you handle it.  If you don’t get a cooperative or even a curious response from a provider, you may be left to request very simple adaptations.  These include more modest draping, so less of your body is exposed, or asking for a momentary break before an injection or procedure so you can use a stabilization strategy.

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Asking for alternative equipment is best done before the treatment begins.  Providers may need to source out different equipment or reserve a different room. Asking for this on short notice can create stress for the provider, and you will perceive that stress as frustration or annoyance…with you.  No one that has endured childhood abuse handles the experience of feeling they are the source of irritation well in a dental or medical appointment.

Do I have to tell them I have DID to request an adaptation?

Requesting adaptations does not mean that you have to reveal your diagnosis.  You can state that you would be more relaxed or less stressed if adaptations were used.  Most providers are aware that many of their treatments are stressful or painful for their patients.  The decision to reveal your DID diagnosis should be based on the pros and cons for the situation, not knee-jerk reactions to fear or pain.  Don’t fall into the trap of revealing too much information in order to reduce your internal stress.  The other trap is telling nothing to anyone, thinking that sharing anything could lead to disaster.  It isn’t likely to work.

Remember that “now” is not “then”, and you have agency in life.  Every time you request an adaptation and it works, even a small amount, you have concrete proof of your agency in life as an adult.

Want more information on how to adapt common treatments when you have DID?

I wrote a book for you!

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“Staying In The Room” describes many treatment adaptations in detail.  It discusses how to make ER visits, GYN appointments, hospitalizations, and well visits better without compromising care.  These include specific equipment choices and positioning that can reduce discomfort as well as triggering.  Some items can be brought with you to appointments and used there; you will not need to make a request to your provider at all!

Because being able to “stay in the room” is usually complicated for adults with DID, the book teaches readers to use a wide toolkit of strategies.  You will learn how to help fearful or angry parts handle appointments, pick the stabilization techniques that have the most powerful effects on dissociation and switching, and how to speak with providers to get good results.

“Staying In The Room”  is available as an affordable read-only e-book or as a paperback on Amazon .

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Published by Cathy Collyer

I am a licensed occupational therapist and a licensed massage therapist, in private practice in the NYC area. I have over 25 years of professional experience in adult and pediatric treatment, with a focus on sensory processing issues and treating the consequences of complex trauma. I am the author of four books, including "Staying In The Room: Managing Medical And Dental Care When You Have DID" and "The Practical Guide To Toilet Training Your Child With Low Muscle Tone". Over the years I have lectured about trauma treatment and pediatric development.

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