Ageism in healthcare
This is something I've noticed personally with a lot of specialists I saw when I was a young person up to my teenage years. I fully believe that if my complaints were taken seriously when I was a child, I would have found appropriate care much earlier for my EDS symptoms and would have a better relationship with my body.
Here are some of my experiences as a young person versus my experiences as a young adult:
-I went to a cardiologist at John's Hopkins because I was dizzy and fainting regularly upon standing. No tests were done, he said eat more salt and drink more water, you'll be fine. I did just that, for years, with no change. Things actually got worse as I got older, now with extreme fatigue thrown in the mix.
+As a 22 year old, I revisited cardiology at Mercy. They did an Echo and noticed some leaky valves and tachycardia. They ordered every test under the sun, including a tilt-table test (which was positive for POTS.) My cardiologist diagnosed me with hypermobile EDS at my next appointment.
-When I was a child, I had big bruises everywhere. My mother brought this up to my pediatrician when I was around 5-6 years old. He said something like, "we could investigate this and I can refer you to John's Hopkins, go through a million tests, and find nothing. It would be a waste of time. In fact, you're lucky I didn't find any bruising today or I'd call CPS."
+As an adult, I explained my easy bruising to my psychiatrist and showed him a big bruise running up the entire front of my thigh (I'd gotten this from just laying on the floor with a cable under my leg.) He immediately ordered a bunch of blood tests and re-evaluated my medication (some SSRI's may cause thinning of blood.) He took this very seriously, and that's when I found out I was iron deficient and needed treatment.
- "Growing pains." How many times have I heard this word to explain all the pain I went through when I was younger! No, Ibuprofen and Tylenol don't help!
+ At 23, I saw a Pain specialist who finally acknowledged my joint and muscle pains and gave me a muscle relaxer and pain medication along with physical therapy which keeps my pain mostly under control.
-I was always yelled at for being too tired to wake up in the morning, too tired to do homework, too tired to exercise or go to guitar lessons. "Why are you so lazy? Be careful or I'll take away your privileges!"
+In college, I recognized that sleeping 22 hours (literally) ISN'T normal (who would've thought?) I went to my primary care physician, got some testing done, and got treatment for iron deficiency (one cause of fatigue), depression (another cause of fatigue), and later, a sleep study and a trial of stimulant drugs (for EDS, another significant cause of fatigue and poor sleep.) I always think about how my life would be different if i'd been treated with these things as a child.
What are your experiences with ageism in medicine?