To the Urgent Care Doctor Who Rolled His Eyes When I Explained My Illness


To the healthcare professionals at urgent care,

Trust me, I would much rather call and be seen by my primary care provider, or even one of the many specialists I see on a regular basis. You were not my first choice, nor my second choice. I dragged myself out of bed to visit this urgent care clinic because I could not be seen anywhere else and this was urgent.

I don’t appreciate the eye roll when I try and tell you about my primary immunodeficiency (PI) and recent infection which led me to this germ-infested waiting room. A part of my immune system does not function properly and I get infections very easily. I do not enjoy going to the clinic unplanned. Most physicians do not understand how to treat patients with compassion when dealing with a rare, chronic illness. A person with a functioning immune system might be able to clear a sinus infection in a few days or a week, but I am unable to do so. I am the one percent of the population living with a primary immunodeficiency, and when I get a sinus infection, I am down for the count for days. This often leads to bronchitis, which requires multiple inhalers to manage.

I don’t appreciate the need to excuse yourself from the room to Google my condition because you have no idea what my diagnosis means — only to wait for you to reappear and be an “expert” after your five-minute lesson from the Internet.

I was discharged with the instructions of: “follow up with your primary care physician if you continue to feel unwell.” Unwell? Excuse you? I have a sinus infection and you won’t even look in my nose, eyes, ears and mouth because my “fever” isn’t high enough yet? I have a naturally low body temperature and when it hits 99 degrees Fahrenheit, something is wrong! Luckily, I was able to follow up with my primary care provider the following morning and was prescribed the antibiotics I needed to start fighting the infection.

All I ask for is compassion, or even to be treated like a human being while I am in your clinic. I would like for you to at least appear to be listening to what brought me in. I would like you to consider the solution I am presenting you. I know my chronic condition, but more than that, I know my own body. Something is wrong or I wouldn’t be here. Please take the time to see me as a person who is obviously ill and needing care. Didn’t you take an oath?

***

Now I realize when going to urgent care or the ER, it is very important to be your own advocate. You need to stand up for the care you need. I also firmly believe you need to know when your battle is lost and the healthcare team isn’t going to do what you need. I see no point in countless hours spent arguing, only to be sent home without the necessary treatment. It may mean leaving the clinic and following up with your own physician, which is highly frustrating.

If you do need to be seen elsewhere, make sure to have a care plan in place. Have your doctor make a note in your chart about what to do when you present with a certain set of symptoms. It is easier to get the care you need when your own doctor has already written an order or made a note of what to do. Sometimes doctors just want to hear it from another doctor and not just the patient.

I know what my body needs; after all, I am the one living with a chronic illness. I have been down this road many times before! My diagnosis is at the top of my chart, yet some doctors decide it isn’t relevant or they simply don’t care. All I ask for is some compassion. Is that really too much?


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