Please don’t dismiss my concerns. I know that you’ve spent years in med school, and many more years treating patients, but I’ve lived in my body for quite some time and I can assure you that something is going on that isn’t explained by my current diagnoses. So please do not try to tell me that it’s just my Fibromyalgia or stress. I’ve been treated for chronic illnesses for several years (almost a decade, if I recall correctly) and it takes a lot out of me to get myself out the door and into your office, so I can assure you I wouldn’t be here using both of our time and energy if I didn’t think it was important. I heard that in med school they tell you “when you hear hooves, think horses not zebras” in an attempt to corral your imagination and enthusiasm, so that you don’t skip over an obvious diagnosis in search of a rare disease. But just because there are more horses than zebras doesn’t mean that zebras don’t exist, so please hear me out.
I’m not saying that I’ve been misdiagnosed, I just think we’ve missed a diagnosis (or a few). There are things I’ve lived and with and compensated for my entire life, that up until very recently I thought were normal for everyone. I have fought friends, family, and countless doctors over the years in a desperate search to find out the root of my health issues and I’d really appreciate it if someone would be on my side for once. I need someone in my corner fighting with me, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little blood work and some imaging if it rules out (or confirms) a few things. I don’t think it’s unreasonable of me to want a decent quality of life, and if you really do think that stress is a big concern for me what do you think being in barely bearable pain 24/7 is doing for my ability to relax, hmm? If the “standard” treatments for my currently diagnosed conditions aren’t providing effective relief, I think it’s a fair assumption that maybe there is something else going on that needs to be addressed. Please, just help me find it.
If I were a hypochondriac, I would be excited about this appointment. You’d be seeing me every week. I wouldn’t be waiting to come in, putting it off. If I am being honest, I really don’t like going there at all. Between some pretty severe driving anxiety and a car that I fully expect to break down every time I drive it, loading up my kids and driving half an hour with no air conditioning isn’t exactly at the top of my list of fun ways to spend a summer afternoon. I’m pretty sensitive to heat (hello, I get dizzy when it’s over 85 degrees outside), and I get over-stimulated while driving on the highway, and the lights and sounds and smells and all the goings-on in your waiting and exam rooms put me on edge. When I finally do get home from this upcoming excursion I will be so physically and mentally drained that I will probably not be able to do anything but the barest necessities for several days after, so please don’t make the assumption that I’m just here for attention. Trust me, I don’t like talking face-to-face to you (or your nurse, who makes me say it all to her before you come in) about the gory details and shortcomings of my existence. If I could manage to live my life without ever having to go to another doctor’s office, I totally would.
I can assure you, I’m not a drug seeker. I already have a legitimate Pain Management specialist who has been treating me for several years, and frankly I’d be happy to wean off of the opioid medication altogether, if I could live in a place where a safer and more natural pain management solution were available. Sadly, that’s not an option here and I can’t move, so I’m forced to take what treatments are available to me. I would think that a drug seeker would come in asking for drugs, not blood tests and imaging. But what do I know? I’m not looking for a prescription, so I’m not familiar with the actions of people who are. I would like to think that someone who took an oath to provide care and healing to others without discrimination wouldn’t deny treatment to someone in need based on a preconceived notion. I would like to think that someone who took that oath would understand that everyone deserves effective and unbiased care.
Wouldn’t you rather be the doctor that ordered some “pointless” tests than the one who sent someone away without even looking for answers? So what if the tests come back negative? You don’t have to tell anyone but me. If they come back positive then you’ve found yourself an authentic zebra, and your inner med school student who didn’t want to be stifled will be vindicated! In all of your day-to-day ins-and-outs of taking care of horses, wouldn’t you just love to see some stripes? I know it’s kind of a low blow to prey on your ego, but if there is anything I’ve learned about doctors over the years it’s that you take a lot of pride in your intellect and ability, and you should. You’ve earned it! I also take great pride, in my ability to know how my body feels and when something is “off” (and I don’t mean to brag, but I’m not exactly the dullest crayon in the box) so let’s work together and figure this thing out, OK? OK.
For some background on this story, read more here.