To the Doctor Who Delayed My Diagnosis by a Year


Dear Dr. X,

I saw you at the start of my illness when my symptoms were at their worst. Most days, I struggled to get out of bed and attending appointments was a huge effort for me. Despite this, your advice to me was to go for a walk every day, even though you knew I struggled with chest pains and dizzy spells. Your advice made my symptoms much worse and my condition deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t leave the house without assistance.

 

I now know I have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and if I had been referred to a cardiologist when I first asked, then I would have been diagnosed a whole year earlier than I was.  I wouldn’t have lost my place on my Master’s degree and I would have been able to go and see my Grandma before she died.

One time, you wrongly attributed my symptoms to “emotional distress” and I hung up the phone. I was clearly very unwell – why couldn’t you see that? Every time I made the effort to attend an appointment, you repeatedly asked me about drugs instead of taking my blood pressure and pulse. I believe I received a poor standard of care from you, presumably due to my age and gender.

Maybe, you’re one of those doctors who believe that young people can’t get sick. I can tell you now that they do and my hands shake because I have an illness that affects my nervous system, not because I’m a drug addict. My advice to you is: treat the symptoms you are presented with and treat the patient as a person and not a stereotype.

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Thinkstock photo via NanoStockk.


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