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The Importance of Feeling Validated by a Doctor

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So many of us go years without proper diagnoses. We see countless specialists. No real answers. Each time the stab and mistrust in the healthcare system grows and grows.

For a long time now I’ve lived in that in between. I had an amazing gynecologist who offered me this new diagnosis. Behcet’s. Something I’d never heard of before. From there my ophthalmologist and family doctor all agreed. I had Behcet’s. So they did what all doctors do. They sent me to a specialist.

The things I heard from the specialist destroyed parts of my faith in the system. I’m white. It’s rare. All things I knew before I stepped foot in that door. How do you explain things that just happen over and over again? And symptoms that never go away?

Well, I moved. And I was seen by another specialist. Except this one was different. Or so I thought. She couldn’t agree on a Behcet’s diagnosis but acknowledged something was wrong with me, and since treatments are virtually the same she assured me we would discuss treatments when one more thing was ruled out. Well, it was ruled out. And I walked into her office expecting a plan. A plan to tackle my symptoms so I could start living life again. Unfortunately, this was another disappointment. She dismissed my symptoms. When I left that office that day I gave up on having an official diagnosis.

Months later I got a family doctor in my city. My old doctors forwarded my file. And I got a call asking me to go in and discuss some of the issues in my file.

He told me about deficiencies in my blood work I’d not been told about. Addressed situations where tests were recommended but not done. Things I’d brought up with previous doctors but things that were dismissed. And then he brought up Behcet’s.

I prepared myself for the same disappointment and letdowns I’d felt since the time I’d left my small town and the doctors there who were sure I had Behcet’s. And as he talked I felt my stomach getting tighter and tighter. But then he surprised me. He didn’t agree with the specialists and with me being dismissed and he felt my other doctors were right. Not only was he sure with what he’d read about me that I had it, but he was going to get me to a different specialist. Not for a diagnosis. But for a treatment plan.

On this day I didn’t walk into that office expecting that validation. And I didn’t expect to leave feeling like I have someone else on my side fighting for me. I’d fought alone for so long that I’d long given up. It’s hard to stand up for yourself when professionals in their field dismiss you. But that’s exactly what you need to do. So many of us struggle and have struggled for so long we don’t even remember what it feels like to truly be heard anymore.

And I know people reading this now are just waiting for that validation.

Trust your body. And trust yourself. And most importantly, don’t give up. When you least expect it, someone is going to fight for you when you don’t have any fight left.

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Thinkstock photo via bundid_vc.

Originally published: November 3, 2017
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