To the First Doctor Who Recognized My POTS
I saw numerous doctors before I found you. Almost all of them had caused me damage in some way which is the opposite of what a doctor is supposed to do. The trauma of being refused help so many time for my debilitating illness had prevented me from going to see a GP in over a year. This may seem strange to you, but unfortunately, it is all too common for those with complex or invisible illnesses.
I was told that I needed to make an appointment to see a doctor, so after putting it off for a few weeks, I plucked up the courage to attend one of the drop-in sessions As I sat in the waiting room, the harsh words of my previous doctors swam around my head.
“What do you want me to do about it?”
“You don’t need to see a cardiologist.”
“Are you having relationship problems?”
“Why are you here?”
My experience of doctors had always been negative when seeking help for my postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). I no longer had any interest in my health or wellbeing because whenever I’d asked for help in the past, I’d always been refused. Most doctors didn’t even try. They said I was a medical mystery and sent me away, even though I have an illness that is thought to affect between one and three million Americans.
My medical appointment anxiety kicked in when I saw my name flash up on the electronic screen. That all disappeared when I saw you because you greeted me with a smile and not the disdainful look that I was used to. I was impressed that you knew about POTS and you asked all the right questions without being prompted. You were the first person I told about losing my place at University because of my illness. We also talked about my recent tilt table test which was positive for POTS. I left that appointment feeling better than I did when I walked in. That had never happened to me before, but I suppose that is what a doctor is supposed to do.
Every time I came to you with a new symptom or problem with my medication, you made an effort to help me. In turn, this encouraged me to make an effort to help myself. I started seeing a physiotherapist for my chronic fatigue. I made a list of all my symptoms so that we could tackle them one by one. I felt like I was making good progress although my POTS symptoms were still very debilitating. I felt positive about my prognosis.
On the whole, I still don’t trust doctors. Even with my diagnosis of POTS, I am still poorly treated by other medical professionals. Unfortunately, good doctors are rare and hard to find. Young women are commonly dismissed by medical professionals due to their age and gender. I will always be grateful that you treated me like a person and you didn’t make assumptions about me due to my age like many other doctors I’ve seen. Everyone deserves to have a doctor just like you.
Getty Image by Piyapong Thongcharoen