One of my biggest challenges is going to the doctors office. It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but it’s actually hard to exaggerate how hard it is to go to the doctor when you have a chronic illness. For many people going to the doctors office is unpleasant. No one wants to wait in an uncomfortable chair for hours at a time. No one wants to fill out reams of paperwork. Nobody wants to put their health and well being into the hands of someone else, and nobody wants to pay out the nose to do it. Luckily most people only have to go to the doctor on the rare occasion, but the chronically ill have to go on a regular basis, and if they take any type of pain killer they have to go every single month. So the horror of the doctors office is naturally multiplied, but in addition the chronically ill have to face the judgement and condescension of the doctor and their staff. We have to constantly deal with Microaggressions. For the sake of this discussion here is the definition of Microaggressions:
Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership (Psychology Today).
Here’s some I deal with on a regular basis, with commentary for your pleasure:
1. The receptionist looks at your paperwork and says, “You were just here last month, why are you here again”?
Because I’m forced here by the FDA dimwit.
2. The doctor says, “You seem just fine.”
Thanks pal. I’m so glad my invisible disability turns out to be *shocker* invisible! Should I look of the definition of I N V I S I B L E?
3. The doctor says, “I have a patient the same age as you and they have to deal with insert disability here. You should be grateful for what you have.”
If that’s your bar pal then you wouldn’t even treat people for strep throat because some people have throat cancer, and that’s worse. Nice logic there. Are you sure you went to medical school?
4. “We can only treat so many patients like you, you people take up too much time.”
You people. YOU PEOPLE! Did you really just say that? What people are you talking about? Alive people? Almost dead people? People with hair? People who hate doctors, people?
5. The doctor questioning why you have your illness. “Well, if you had just done ________ then you wouldn’t have this problem now.”
No, if the twenty doctors I saw then would have helped me then I wouldn’t have this problem now. Look in the dictionary for the definition of the Hippocratic Oath.
Obviously the doctors office is a challenging place for me and many others. Ideally this would be solved by finding other doctors, but it’s not that easy. I’m on doctor 21 approximately and have had little to no luck and I live in the fourth largest city in the U.S. Part of the solution to this doctor problem lies with teaching doctors in medical school that the chronically ill aren’t just talking slabs of meat that pay you money. Unfortunately the long term solution is more complicated than that; it lies in changing society’s perception of the chronically ill.