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Why Many Patients With Chronic Conditions Must Seek Their Own Answers

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Discouraging patients from seeking their own answers when medical professionals fail them is a danger to the patients’ health.

Doctors aren’t perfect. They’re often overworked and most can only squeeze patients in for 10-15 minutes per appointment — not nearly enough time to do justice for complex health problems. Yes, doctors spend so many years studying and training to prepare, but they can’t possibly be prepared for everything. And, sadly, far too many aren’t interested in learning to keep up with the newest developments. We tend to place doctors on such a pedestal that we view them as infallible gods and not flawed humans, just like the rest of us.

Most doctors fill their days diagnosing symptoms they’re familiar with and already know how to treat, so when they encounter something puzzling, even physiological symptoms, we discover another side to them — a side most people whose symptoms are easily remedied would never imagine possible.

Illnesses like depression, bipolar, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder were dismissed until the day they could be proven by an MRI, and still face so much stigma by the general population today. So how do you think they were (and still are) regarded by many medical professionals, who can’t simply check their everyday biases at the door? Especially if those patients were women or racial minorities, who to this day continue to be dismissed and blown off as though they couldn’t possibly be suffering.

As someone who lives with illnesses for which the tests are yet to be developed, I can assure you it’s pretty much only the handful of doctors worldwide who’ve dedicated their careers to researching ways to develop such tests who really believe what patients are experiencing. And until these medical researchers succeed, we’re on our own. The only chance we have at improving our lives is to inform ourselves by reading the research and swapping notes with other patients. So the last thing we need is you telling us not to take control of our own narratives. Trust me, no one wants to lose decades of their lives waiting for medical science to finally catch up!

Getty image by Utah778.

Originally published: February 26, 2021
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