I have a doctor’s appointment today with my primary caregiver whom I have only seen once in the past six months. It was not my choice to not see him, the clinic where he works keeps losing professionals, so I have been bounced about like a freaking basketball from nurse practitioner to another. I’ve been in the ER twice, outpatient convenient care four times, and in the office only not to see my doctor at least six times in the last six months.
Six months ago, shortly after Christmas, a nagging little cough I had been experiencing for over a year suddenly flared into bronchitis. I went to the doctor, saw a nurse practitioner, given antibiotics, and feeling reassured went home to heal.
Only, I didn’t heal.
After the antibiotics ran out, I was assailed again with bronchitis symptoms. This time the symptoms were so bad that I went to the emergency room. I have already written about what happened there, they ran a few tests, and then after hours of belittling and embarrassing treatment by the staff, I went home without any antibiotics or inhalers still unable to breathe.
The next day I went to convenient care at the clinic where my doctor works. I saw a male nurse practitioner who gave me antibiotics, a bronchial inhaler and sent me home to heal.
At this point, I still believed the medical community knew what they were doing and just rolled over and tried to forget about the emergency room experience.
Two weeks later found me coughing so hard that I lost my voice and I was coughing up of blood and lots of phlegm. I knew I was in trouble and by this time I had suffered from bronchitis four times in six months.
I was frightened, but I felt little hope that I was going to get any help, and I was correct.
I went back to the clinic and saw yet another nurse practitioner who looked at the number of times I had been in the clinic for the same ailment and pretended to care. I say pretend because I read her aftercare summary, and she stated that I looked healthy and well-nourished. She also said two blatant lies in her notes about me, still, I was willing to move on and forgive if I felt better.
To be honest, I don’t know if the lies were intentional. It could be that she didn’t do her notes right away because she was overwhelmed by the number of patients, she was seeing due to the doctor shortage in the rural area where I live.
That’s for another piece.
In early July, they made the mistake of assigning me to a real doctor who was alarmed, or so I thought, at what he saw in my chart on the computer screen and what I was telling him about being so sick. He ordered tests and I felt reassured that finally, finally, I was going to get some answers and feel myself again.
While I was in his office, I told him that my blood sugars were spiking into the 300s (extremely high) and remaining in the mid-200s all while fasting. He ordered an A1C (a test to see how your blood sugar has run in the past 6 months) because he didn’t believe me.
I was sitting there telling him my blood sugar ran into the mid-300s fasting, and he ran an A1C because he wanted to be sure that I was lying. Not that I was not lying, but that I was.
My A1C came back higher (of course) than it had ever been but within normal range. It did not show the past month I had been experiencing much higher than my normal blood sugar, it showed the past SIX months when I had been well and not struggling to breathe.
I had a pulmonary test two weeks ago via the doctor I saw who appeared to be alarmed by my symptoms but who was not. I have no hope that I will be treated with respect and dignity today. Oh, to my face the doctor will seem concerned and empathetic, but I know for certain that he’ll try to reassure me that all is well while in his mind stating what he really thinks.
“Here before me sits a middle-aged woman, in a wheelchair, who is obese and has a supposed mental illness. Sheesh, why is she wasting my time.”
In the above quote, (not really a quote you know, just my idea of what is rattling around in a supposed professional’s mind), I have committed four sins.
First, I’m a woman. Why all women are hysterics, did you know that? That’s why when a woman tells her doctor she is experiencing some strange symptoms she is ignored and a few days to two weeks later she dies suddenly of a heart attack.
Second, I’m obese. God, what a horrendous thing! I’m fat! Oh my God!
Third, I’m in a wheelchair, I must either A. be in it for attention and have nothing wrong with me, or B. be in the wheelchair because I’m a weak person who won’t watch her weight and had a stroke.
Fourth, and worst of all, I have a severe and controversial diagnosis on my medical record that pops up on their computer screens when they look at my history. Therefore, when I sit before them, they know for certain that I’m only searching for either drugs or attention.
I have decided not to lay down and take abuse from this clinic any longer knowing full-well that no matter where I go, I will be treated the same.
I just can’t keep my mouth shut! I’m going to say exactly what I’ve said here but in a shorter form because, you know, the clinic limits the minutes he will be allowed to see me.
I’m tired, I’m not well, and I’m overwhelmed by the feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness these doctors and nurses have showered on me.
In their eyes, I am lower than a dog because I am not well.
But, isn’t that why they are there? To treat my un-wellness.
How dare they assume I am lying to them for attention! I have mentioned I can’t breathe sometimes for six months and that my blood sugar is raging to so many of them now that I have absolutely no hope, they will help me today.
I have given up hope on the medical profession, completely and utterly given up.
When my father was alive, he sought help from his primary for chest pain. It wasn’t a horrible pain, but he was concerned. His doctor saw when he walked into and saw my dad sitting in his office, a 39-year-old man who appeared healthy. He was six feet tall and appeared well-nourished. He was obese and sometimes worked two jobs.
That doctor actually laughed at my dad, gave him a prescription of nitroglycerine tablets to humor him and sent him home a humiliated man.
Two weeks later, he dropped dead in our kitchen in front of his wife and three young children with the nitroglycerin bottle in his shirt pocket.
At the hospital, the same doctor who had laughed at him accosted my grieving mother in the waiting room clutching the nitro bottle wanting to know why her now-deceased husband had not been to the doctor! My mother stopped crying long enough to tell him to look at the prescribing label and see whose name was on it. That doctor didn’t apologize or say he was sorry for her loss. No, he huffed away angry at the accusation.
You might be thinking, why don’t you go to a different clinic and choose a different doctor?
The answer is simple, I live in a rural primarily farming area. We have no other doctors or clinics. We are captives to the wills and prejudices of the few doctors we have here. I have no place to go and even if I did, I have no hope a different setting would help because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it will do absolutely no good.
It is obvious, if you are a professional of any type of profession where you deal with the minds and bodies of people who trust you, you may be killing them by ignoring the truth and instead of believing the stereotypes in your damn heads.
I may lose my eyes, my feet, or simply drop dead before I ever get any treatment that makes any sense due to who they perceive I am. However, today I’m telling the young doctor whom I have only seen twice during my lengthy illness, exactly what I have expressed here, and I’m holding nothing back.
I know he will chart that they were all correct, my mental illness is causing me to go to the doctor for “imagined” breathing problems but perhaps in the future, my frankness will save a life.
I’m not even hopeful about that either, but I’ve got to try.
I’m not hysterical, I’m wounded and need a medical professional to fulfill their oath to do no harm. I know, without a doubt, that I will die of my wounds.