WHY CAN'T DOCTORS ACTUALLY HELP ME?
After moving to a new area I have been pressured into finding a doctor, rheumatologist, and Pain Management doctor as soon as possible. I have NEVER have had such a bad healthcare struggle than I have had the past 6 months in South Carolina. Their set up does everything it can to make you off to be a drug addict and to take away all medications-no matter how much they help you.
Last month, after waiting 3 months, I finally was able to go to my pain management doctor for the first time.
This doctor’s appointment was so bad that I have left multiple reviews about it online because no one should have to deal with this. After filling out multiple pages of paperwork that they mailed out to me and waiting for 3 months I got a message saying I needed to fill out even more paperwork online right before my appointment. I spent 45 minutes trying to be as accurate as possible on dates and times when this or that symptom showed itself etc. I was also told to bring all the medications I’m currently
on which is an awful lot of course but totally normal for a first appointment. As we walked into the office the receptionist there was
absolutely the sweetest human being I have ever met. I had talked to her before on the phone when I was scheduling the appointment and could tell that she was a good soul. They had a cooking show on the television while we waited and I was hoping it was going to be a good omen.
Unfortunately I was very wrong.
We get in to the room and the nurse asks me to again answer questions of my medications and my diagnosis. A bit much I thought to myself but of course the doctor usually reads the nurses notes so I figured I would
save myself some time by telling the nurse what was what. The nurse leaves and the doctor and a medical student come in. Dr. M goes straight to the computer-doesn’t even look at me-and introduces himself to the computer. Then he asks for all of my medications that I’m on and my diagnosis. Of course I say “really you want me to answer this question again?” For the first time he actually looks at me and tells me that if I expect him to help me at all that I need to talk to him. He tells me he has no background info on me(even though my primary doctor has the same online forum so he can see all the info already compiled if he just looks.
A lazy doctor is not a good doctor.
I start listing my medication(I have 12) and get two medications in when he interrupts me and starts telling me how no one person should be on all these medications and that that is how people overdose. Then he starts complaining about how no good doctor would put me on all those medications and so he immediately wants to take me off all the pain medications especially ‘zolpidem’ he says. Now I straight up laugh at this because as any doctor worth their salt should know Zolpidem is the most common strong sleep medication and has been for the 11 years I have been on it. As I go to tell him that zolpidem is actually not a pain medication he interrupts me again and tells me that he knows his medications.
He then changes the subject asking me to tell me how much pain I’m in from 1 to 10. (I decide to let the subject change to see if the appointment will improve) Of course I roll my eyes at the 1-10 question because I already told his nurse that my pain level is 10. So then I have to again tell him that my pain level is 10. He starts lecturing about how doctors pain levels are different from most people’s and that 1 means that you’re happy and okay and that 10 means that you’re screaming and want to go to the hospital. Considering I was in a wheelchair he really should have known automatically that I have been through the 1 to 10 lecture multiple times throughout my life. Again I tell him that my pain level is 10(honestly, I have wanted to scream and then go to the hospital for my pain for the past 6 years but that is not how the world works when it comes to chronic pain).
He turns to look at me and eyeballs my whole body like ‘really kid you are lying’ and he says “are you sure?” obviously not believing me one bit. And I say ‘yes’ in an impatient tone. I am getting SO done with this dumb doctor and especially at how little he actually seems to know. His arrogance does him no favors and spouting off things before knowing my background or even current troubles takes him down a LOT of notches in my book. He then tells me that I need to be taken off all pain medication because it’s obviously not doing any good. I have to interrupt him to tell him that if my pain is level 10 right now that it is obviously doing some good and that if he takes me off the pain medication then my suicidal thoughts will become all the more real.
At this point I’ve been in the doctor’s office for barely 5 minutes and I already know that there is no way in heck he’s going to be my doctor and I never want to come back and also I very much know I am done and ready to leave now. There are very few things in my life that I regret but most of them have to do with not walking out of a doctor’s appointment where the doctor is treating me horribly(I can think of my top 3 worst ones that easily make the cut. One where the doctor told me I was morbidly obese and that if I lost weight it would solve all my problems-no joke he really said that! Another one where the doctor said surgery was the answer despite being told with EDS I can’t get surgery, didn’t examine me at all and tried to schedule me for surgery as he walked out the door after only 10 minutes. The third one was another doctor who didn’t listen and only talked to my mom instead of me-the actual patient despite me being 21).
I realize that I don’t want this doctor’s appointment to be another one that I regret. Like I said I was in a wheelchair so I turned to my dad to ask him to wheel me out of the room. He doesn’t hear me because he’s trying to listen to what the doctors saying so I have to say it again. “Dad I would like to leave now”. He again doesn’t hear me and at this point the doctor has stopped talking and it’s quiet in the room and everyone’s waiting for me to talk (finally) and so I say decide to own it and say with precision and no longer whispering “Dad I would like to leave now.” Here the doctor asks me why I would want to leave when he is trying to help me and that he can’t help me if I’m not going to work with him and why would I want to leave? I finally turned to him and say “you aren’t listening to me!” As he says “yes I am listening to you I’m listening to every word you’re saying”, I see the medical student closest to me shake her head no that he is not listening to me. But of course she’s a medical student so she can’t speak up and correct him even if she agrees with me.
The worst part about a bad doctor’s appointments is that they make you feel like you’re crazy for feeling what you’re feeling and that you imagine the bad so it helped me feel more sane that his own medical student was on my side even if she couldn’t take that side out loud. As I explain what he’s not listening to me about and how he keeps interrupting me he again interrupts me-which is really ironic actually-and tells me how I just don’t want to listen that I like the pain medication that I’m on and don’t want him to be right. He starts lecturing about how medications for pain can cause you to OD because it slows your breathing which of course I have known for at least 8 years because of all of the research that I do and how careful I am not to accidentally overdose. I finally interrupt his lecture to say that I already know this and that I have been on this medication for 11 years now and have not had any case where I have overdosed and had to go to the hospital so I know what I’m doing.
It is here where I start crying. He then talks about how I don’t know what I’m doing and that he needs to help me and that it’s not good for my body to be on all that pain medication which I mean really is that supposed to mean that my pain is supposed to be good for my body? Honestly! What a fruit loop! At this point I’ve only stayed in the room so long because I’ve been waiting for my dad to wheel me out but he isn’t getting up to help me and no one else is either and I’m done dealing with this jerk of a doctor so I completely ignore him and do my best to wheel out of the teeny tiny room. As I wheel out with tears streaming down my face, the doctor yells to me “there is no way you will find another doctor better than me who will help you”! There was this part of me that really really wanted to give it to him what he obviously needed to hear about how he was not a good doctor and that in my lifetime of going to doctors he was the worst one I’d ever been to but more than that I really wanted to get out of the room and save myself that wasted energy of dealing with a doctor who deserve the title and didn’t know what he was talking about and wasn’t going to listen.
That first red flag about how he didn’t know that zolpidem was a sleeping medication really helped me get up that courage to get out of that room. Obviously I need doctors who know what medication is what and I especially need doctors who will listen to me because it is my life, my wasted time and energy, and my parents wasted money. I also don’t need a doctor who is so full of themselves that they won’t admit that they don’t know something and who don’t take the time to learn my background because that is going to help us save even more time with all of the ‘cures’ I have already tried.
He didn’t even try to learn about my waist-down reconstruction surgery that really started this pain journey. Looking at other reviews of the doctor on google there were at least half of the reviews about how the doctor didn’t listen, was incredibly rude, and acted like they were the worst pain medication addicts. Yep! I wonder how many of them walked out during the appointment. Considering how flustered he was about me leaving I’m pretty sure I’m the first patient he’s ever had that actually walked out during the appointment and probably also one of the few that told him he wasn’t listening-especially with a medical student watching. I comfort myself with that knowledge. Why is it too much to ask for a doctor who actually wants to help?
Image Credit: "Medical disposable masks with stethoscope on wooden background" by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0