I want to know what made you decide to become a doctor. I always assumed that a person decided to study medicine because they wanted to help people. You don’t want to help people, at least not all people, not me. You simply wanted me out of your surgery because you didn’t believe me. You couldn’t explain my physical symptoms so you decided I was mentally ill and was wasting your time. In dismissing my illness, you caused harm. Not only did you cause harm, but numerous colleagues of yours also caused harm by harbouring the same attitude. Why is this the norm? Don’t you want to help people? So really, why did you become a doctor?
You are interested in biology?
I have a connective tissue disorder. More than 80% of the skin is made up from collagen. Collagen also lives in my tendons, ligaments and cartilage around my joints, as well as in my blood vessels. My biology is interesting! Various systems of my body are affected by my illness, surely this should pique your interest?
No? Maybe you are interested in chemistry or pharmacology?
Surely then my intolerance to drugs should have interested you? You know, that’s if you work on the basis that I really do get incredibly ill when I take prescribed pain killers. But you don’t work on that basis. Your main concern is that I was making you run late.
You prefer the other kind of Chemistry?
Oh, okay. I understand that you are a scientist who works in facts and figures. Explain to me, then, why I had to fight tooth and nail for every test that came back showing an abnormality? Explain to me why you weren’t actively looking for an explanation to my suffering. Actually, don’t. I know perfectly well that you thought there was no explanation because my pain was not real. Even when you did to tests, you wanted to make it abundantly clear that you didn’t expect you’d find anything. When tests did come back showing abnormalities, you swept them under the rug because you couldn’t explain them.
The intellectual challenge?
I was basically a case from the TV series House. My condition has actually been featured on both House and more recently, Grey’s Anatomy. I threw down the medical gauntlet and you sidestepped it because you couldn’t be bothered. Even now I have a diagnosis, you aren’t interested in my condition. This feels like the medical equivalent of when a child has a tantrum and exclaims that “FINE! I DON’T WANT THAT ANYWAY!” and then is too stubborn to apologise. It’s now thought that as many as 1 in 5000 people have EDS/hypermobility syndrome. You will see people like me again and they will think you are a genius if you can actually help them before it’s too late.
You wanted to make your family proud?
Do you have a sister, wife, daughter or granddaughter around my age? How would your family feel if they went to see their GP due to debilitating pain and they were repeatedly told they were just anxious? What about if they were told to lose weight and do some Yoga? What about if yoga was actually pretty dangerous to a hypermobile person? What if a doctor told her not to read any of the medication information on the basis that they think she is a hypochondriac who is imagining the side effects? Would you be giving that doctor a pat on the back for a job well done? No. If your family knew that you did this to me, would they really be proud? I doubt it.
I doubt you went into medicine for CASH POWER AND BITCHES… But I’m struggling to draw any other conclusion. Maybe you just like to coast by dealing with sprained ankles and ear infections day in, day out. Next time, I’ll endeavour to get one of them and not an incurable connective tissue disorder.
Oh but you’re not a doctor, you’re another type of medical professional who these comments don’t apply to?
They probably do. Unless you are my physio or OT in at Rheumatology, you haven’t helped me.
Way too many GPs, my rheumatologist, two physiotherapists, gynaecologists, gastroenterologists, nurses, surgical staff… All of them and more. Both before and since my diagnosis, medical professionals haven’t wanted to help.
Even after an abdominal laparoscopy (turns out being moved about unconscious really messes up a hypermobile person) the nursing staff outright refused to help me because they didn’t understand how much pain I was in. They wouldn’t help me out of my gown, over to the toilet, they wouldn’t listen to my about my drug intolerances while driving to feed me pills that make me extremely ill. They didn’t even give me a buzzer. Why are you doing your job? You don’t care.
Are you the physiotherapist I asked about EDS? Did I outright ask you if I had my now DIAGNOSED illness? Did you laugh in my face and tell me I’m not hypermobile because I can no longer touch my toes? Yes you did. You, lady, are incompetent and cruel. You should not be in your job. I handed you my diagnosis and you dismissed it. You are dangerous.
So, doctor. Next time you go into work in the morning, remind yourself why you do your job. Next time it’s 3.45pm and you’re running 45minutes late and someone like me walks into your surgery, remember why you do your job. Don’t just fob us off with a blood test to check our iron levels (again) and see us again in a fortnight. Two weeks with chronic, debilitating pain is hell. With every passing day, the pain pathways to our brain grow more and more familiar until eventually they are impossible to alter. Don’t let us get to that point because you are running 45 minutes late and our symptoms don’t immediately make sense to you. You won’t be helping us and you won’t be making your family proud.