I'm not a doctor, just a patient. And depending on whom you ask, I'm not a very good one, either — unless you happen to be fond of lots of questions. I was a medic in the U.S. Army — a time buyer, as I refer to it — but over the years, I've had the privilege of working with a number of medical professionals. As a patient, I try to be my own best advocate, but I'm not my own doctor. Before multiple sclerosis (MS) forced my retirement, I learned much from the various healthcare providers I encountered on the job. There were so many lessons, and each was important, but one of the best happened during my second hospital rotation near the end of my medic course. The main doctor I worked under was a great mentor. He'd been practicing for a while and exuded confidence. During one shift, a strange case came to the emergency department. It wasn't quite TV medical drama material, but it was baffling to me. After the examination, we returned to the doctor's office, and I waited for him to tell me the diagnosis. Instead, he looked at me and asked, "Do you have any idea what that is?" I was a bit stunned and must have appeared so, because he quickly added, "You don't honestly think I know everything, do you?" I suppose I didn't really, but the bluntness of it was a little shocking at first. Then his statement became oddly comforting as it sunk in. The lesson he taught me was that genuine expertise and confidence come from knowing that you don’t know something. I will always be indebted to him for allowing me to learn that early on. As an MS patient now, instead of a cocky young medic, it's still helpful to know that my doctors, nurses, and therapists don't know everything. It would be impossible for me to have confidence in any member of my healthcare team if they thought or acted as if they did. That includes the head of the team and my best advocate: me. If I knew everything, I wouldn't need the neurologists who treat my multiple sclerosis. If they knew everything, my MS might be cured. I need them to know more than I do, which, so far, hasn't been a problem. I'm as desperate for a cure as anyone else with a chronic disease, but I don’t want my doctor to feel that way. Wait — yes, I do. But I also need my doctor to be realistic. I depend on it. Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.