To the Doctor Who Keeps Saving My Life
When I turned up with my mum for our first appointment, I didn’t know what to think of you. You thought outside the box and I was still steadfastly clinging to the idea that what I was experiencing was normal. I didn’t want to admit I needed constant care, that I wouldn’t be somehow miraculously better in a few weeks.
You were the first person to convince me not only of the unusualness of my condition, but also that individuality could be celebrated. Where others dismissed me as too complex or refused to treat me because “it was all in my head,” you insisted it wasn’t. You insisted there was something that could be done.
Time and time again I have come to you with new symptoms and new fears, trying to navigate a world where doctors didn’t want to treat unusual cases like me. Every time you reassured me and worked tirelessly to find not only the latest research, but the research that hadn’t even been published yet. You got me to see specialists in fields I never knew existed, testing for things that five years ago we didn’t even know were possible. You took me right to the edge of modern medicine.
Where others were optimistic to a fault, you were willing to step up and say the truth: that we didn’t know when I would recover. And how that did not mean I couldn’t have a life, it just meant I would have to go about it in a different way.
You have been my biggest cheerleader when the world told me that people with illnesses like me should just stay at home and not participate in life. Time after time, as I attempted to return to my education, you gave me every tool you could think of. And even when I couldn’t continue – time and time again – you still remained steadfast that one day I would finish my degree.
So many doctors, in emergency rooms and posh offices, said they’d never seen anything like what I have. They were unwilling to look beyond the conventional and the common. You always told me I was fascinating instead. Your physiology is just fundamentally different, you’ve told me many times; that’s why things don’t work the way we expect. But that was never cause to give up. Instead it was cause for interest. You’ll make a fascinating case study, you always say.
You must have written hundreds of letters and signed dozens of forms to get me the best and newest treatment, to get my university to understand my condition, to explain to the government why I deserved assistance. You were never content to write a one-line letter where three pages could do. At every opportunity to educate the world about the uniqueness that is my condition, you could read an Oscar-worthy speech praising individuality.
When I was carried into your office seizing, you never showed how alarmed you probably were. When I told you they found cancer in my hand you were genuinely heartbroken. When I had complications after surgery, you were the first person I told them to call. He can explain all my strange things, I told the nurses.
Better than me, you knew when I needed hospitalization and radical treatments, even when I didn’t want to comply. When I was inpatient far away from home, you were there to guide me, even tailoring aspects of the hospital to accommodate me. My health was never a burden to you, it was a challenge and you always rose to the occasion.
You patiently explained to me how different medications and treatments worked where others brushed me off as “overly concerned” or “fussy.” And every time I experienced adverse side effects, you took it as your personal responsibility, even when no one could have predicted them.
Truth be told, you’re still about as close to a guardian angel as I’ve ever had.
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Thinkstock photo via CandyBoxImages.