when doctors don't listen to their patients

When doctors don’t want to listen to their patients

It’s no secret that I dislike doctors and don’t trust them. I have a whole category on my blog entitled “doctors suck” after all. A lot of people wonder how I can dislike doctors when they are thoughtful, educated, and selfless human beings who are just trying to use their knowledge to bless humanity. When I hear these sentiments I assume the person has never had an illness that wasn’t easily diagnosed by a blood test. Because what they don’t know is that doctors like to fix people. They’re more than happy to diagnose strep throat or high blood pressure, but they don’t like patients who are time consuming or whose illness isn’t obvious. Fortunately for many people they don’t learn this about doctors because they never develop an uncommon or political illness. However, I have a political illness (Lyme disease), a controversial illness (fibromyalgia), and an illness everyone wants to pretend can be fixed with Tylenol (chronic pain). In the dozens of doctors I have seen, I’ve yet to encounter one that spent more than 2 seconds contemplating what it’s like for me to live my life being dismissed by the medical community while living in constant pain.

Because my personal experiences with doctors are not usually considered “proof” (I must be making it up, or I was too demanding, or maybe they were just having a bad day) I asked around to find out how other people with chronic illnesses fared. It wasn’t a surprise to me to find out how many people had horrible stories of terrible things doctors said. Here’s some of the top themes I found:

Faking

The number one response was that the patient must be faking their disease. Because people just love going to the doctor and spending hundreds of dollars so much that they do it for fun.

 Sexism

Several doctors told women they were inconveniencing their husbands, or their husbands weren’t going to want them anymore if they didn’t toughen up. Because husbands are their wives keepers apparently. In 2016.

Depression

This is the one I’ve heard the most, and I’m not alone. Quite a few people were told that they were just depressed and if they took antidepressants they would be fine. Their symptoms that were clearly not tied depression were dismissed as unimportant.

Be grateful

I’ve never personally heard this one from a doctor, but quite a few people were told they should be happy their illness wasn’t worse. At least they didn’t have cancer, and they still had all their limbs. Apparently there are worse things than having a chronic debilitating illness so they needed to stop thinking about their pain. Mind over matter.

You’re just getting older

Aches and pains happen when you’re older, especially if you’re a women so you just need to suck it up. If you’re over 40 it’s totally normal to need to sleep 15 hours a day and be in constant pain. Suck it up buttercup.

Leave it to the experts

Several patients were told to stop researching their illness and leave it to the expert doctors (who were unable to come up with diagnosis, but who needs one, right?) Nothing inspires my confidence more than a doctor who is threatened by an educated patient.

Weight

Many people were told that they were fat and that their illness was all their fault. If they would just stop shoving food in their mouth their problems would go away.

My point to this post is not to say all doctors are bad. My children have always had compassionate doctors that have taken wonderful care of their health. For some reason though as adults many of us are unable to receive any of that compassion, especially women. Why is it that women are constantly dismissed as being crazy, depressed, or delusional? Why can’t we be taken seriously when we know something is wrong with our bodies? Why is it that no one is even willing to treat us? The medical community has a lot to answer for. I’m still holding out for the day when women’s health is taken seriously.

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