To the Doctors I Left Behind


Dear doctors,

Well, here we are. There’s only one of me – I’m fairly complex with a variety of chronic health issues. Unfortunately, there are a handful of you I’ve left behind.

Like many chronic illness patients, I didn’t mean to be a difficult case; it just happened. Some of us patients are lucky. We get better after the first diagnosis or the first medication works. But some of us are in that other group. We develop more health issues, we get better but constantly relapse, and for a group of us no treatment works. There are many reasons why this happens. Stress and diet can play a huge part, and so can lack of support. Some of us might live in abusive homes and you would never know, yet our symptoms or blood work reveal our struggles. I hope the next time you are frustrated your patient isn’t improving, you think about these causes instead. Ask questions and please try to help us.

To the doctors who left me behind, I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Perhaps you thought I was seeking attention when medication didn’t work, or when I got new symptoms. You didn’t know I hated going to see doctors, and that I had been ill with underlying infections for such a long time that my changing symptoms were a part of a multi-systemic disease process. Often you forgot I had several autoimmune conditions. Maybe I looked OK to you in the office and I was able to work for awhile. But you didn’t see me waking up terrified at night, shaking. You didn’t hear me crying when I got lost picking up my child from school or driving to work. You didn’t know my boss yelled at me for making clerical errors because my brain wouldn’t cooperate. Unfortunately I couldn’t make you see all those things during the 20 minutes I spent in your office. Hopefully we are better off without each other and thank you for knowing when to move on without me.

To those doctors I fired, it often came down to the fact that you couldn’t help me anymore, and some of you were rude. One of you declared I was the only patient you had who wasn’t healing. You didn’t listen when I told you I was recently diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition. That was actually the problem, not me. Like many patients who fire their doctors, I felt small, helpless and alone. To the doctors I left because you had run out of treatment options, I know you tried your best.

Finding the right doctor is a match-making process, but we both need each other, at the end of the day. Please don’t forget how important you are to us.

Sincerely,

Another chronic illness patient.

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