The doctor just sits there. She’s breathing, thinking but not moving. She’s typing but there is no expression on her face. It’s like she didn’t hear what you just said. Second guessing if you said anything out loud, you repeat the question, “Where do I go from here...?”
It’s cold in the building. The chair you’re sitting on is out dated with leather cushions for the seat and backing. The chair seat has leather rips from normal usage. There is an indention in the bottom cushion from all the other patients before you. Which makes the chair very uncomfortable. The carpet is reddish and definitely needs to be replaced. The cubbies for reading material are empty, like they have been the entire year you’ve been seeing her. The phones ring off and on and you can hear the other nurses and patients walking up and down the halls. “Where do I go from here?” The doctor stops typing, slightly turns her chair and says “Well, you just have to be positive,” very nonchalant, cold and almost detached. Your back shivers a bit. One because you’ve been in progressive pain for over a year now and she just diagnosed you in such a way you don’t know whether to say something or cry. Two because of what she just said as if the pain you’re in is irrelevant and caused by you yourself.
It’s like an awkward scene in a movie. The ice cold, drafty air surrounds you. Her eyes moving about as if she’s trying to concentrate on the screen in front of her. She doesn’t make eye contact anymore. She says “I can take you off of this med and you can try this one for two days a week instead of spreading it out over four days.” She’s typing something again. She gets up and says “Okay, I want to see you back in 6 months” and walks out.
You’re sitting there, in that ripped leather chair still..stuck. What just happened? You move slowly because the pain is so very dominantly making itself known, yet you can’t scream out. You’ll look crazy if you do, so you hold your emotions in. Walking up to the exit desk, the nurse says “So the doctor wants to see you back in 6 months.. would you like morning or afternoon?” You’re thinking...does it matter…? But you actually say “morning please,” as if you’re already inconveniencing them by still being there. Your chest is heavy. What just happened?
You start the car. The AC kicks on, it’s blasting but in the wrong direction. You’re sweating, hot, struggling to place the vents on you. You were just diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. You were just told to “try and be positive….” You were just given a life altering diagnosis that has affected your family history for generations, yet she said it like it was absolutely nothing. “Do I do my own research now?…Who do I talk to about this?” Are the thoughts running through your head. The one person who should have been the one to explain it would have been her. She’s a Rheumatologist after all. Tears roll down your face. You realize you’re still in the parking lot. Your chest is heavy. Visions of your grandmother in a wheel chair flash through your mind. Visions of her hands, feet, her body riddled with pain and visible deformations after years of living with the disease. Visions of her needing custom shoes, custom braces for her legs, wrists. Her strong faith in God. The Bible she carried everywhere. You wipe your tears and think “If she can do it, so can I…” only you don’t feel confident in saying that. You feel empty. You feel like you’re not really you and you somehow aren’t in your body. It’s surreal. Something isn’t right. What just happened. You remember you’re still in the parking lot, so you wipe your tears again while putting the car in reverse. You drive away.
This story here is my real story. This is exactly what happened when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Nothing in this is exaggerated, IMAGINATIVE or made up. The sad reality is that I’m not the only person experiencing or have experienced dismissive medical staff. So many suffer from not only a/n invisible illness/es but trauma and heartache from those who are supposed to be the professionals in this situation.
Imagine a doctor gathering as much information as possible and trying to provide it slowly but surely to help the patient understand the diagnosis.
To Doctors..it doesn’t have to be all at once. You have time to help us.
Imagine a doctor admitting they aren’t sure and saying “let’s figure this out together.”
To Doctors…it’s okay if you don’t know it all. We know you can’t possibly but steps in the right direction may help.
Imagine a doctor saying “here are some recommendations for doctors that may be able to help you further.”
To Doctors, It’s okay to recommend a colleague or a stranger doctor all together, aren’t you all in it for one thing..to help the patient anyways?
Imagine a doctor specializing in autoimmune diseases, specifically rheumatology and she doesn’t offer to help you.
She watched me for a year before she finally diagnosed me. Then diagnosed me and left me. I would have liked info, pamphlets, general advice.
To Doctors, it’s okay if you don’t understand what it’s like personally, only objectively, just help us.
You don’t have to be a therapist. You’re the last person we want emotionally effected by us but we do want you to generally care about us as humans.
Imagine doctors taking an oath to help patients and actually doing what they promised to do. Help their patients.
Imagine the experience a young adult can have, if their illnesses are addressed early on. What a difference compassion and thoroughness can do for any one patient, let alone a young adult.
Doctors say our illnesses are “imaginary.”
Too bad our pain couldn’t be.
Too bad the good doctors are the only thing practically imaginary in these situations.
**I know there are amazing doctors out there but they seem like unicorns.
So far and few in between.**