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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via NanoStockk.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

woman sitting at a table holding a coffee with a tattoo on her arm that says 'guts over fear'

When Your Partner Is Constantly Worried You Will Die From Your Chronic Illness

“I’m just not 100 percent sure, that’s all.” “Sure of what?” “Whether it’ll just, you know, stop. What if it does?” What if my heart just stops? I could be out on my measly 15-minute walk, all alone, and it could just go out of control like it’s never been out of control before and then explode inside [...]
painting of a woman surrounded by red and pink roses

Why I Believe My Chronic Illness Defines Me

As a subscriber to various chronic illness forums, I often hear the phrase, “My illness does not define me.” I have pondered that statement and asked myself the same question. Does my autoimmune disease or POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) define me? When I look at my life today, I can’t seem to separate myself [...]
woman feeling dizzy and holding her head

50 Reasons to Laugh (or Cry) About Living With POTS

My journey with being diagnosed with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) started back when I was 7 or 8 years old. Little things I thought were normal would bother me, such as blacking out for a few seconds when I stood up too fast or the sun hurting my eyes and always getting a headache [...]
watercolor painting of a woman with colorful flowers in her hair

POTS May Not Be Life-Threatening, but It Is Definitely Life-Changing

I’ve spent a ton of time thinking about how to explain my “invisible illness” and how I live with it day after day. For starters, I was diagnosed with POTS this month last year. But I look completely like a “normal” teenage girl. Just because you can’t see my symptoms doesn’t mean they’re not there. [...]