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4 Things Doctors Shouldn’t Say to a Person With a Chronic Illness

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My life has been turned inside out and upside down, which has inspired me to share four things I have personally been told by medical professionals. I want to let others know they’re not alone and to not feel defeated every time these comments are spoken to and at you.

1. “You and your symptoms are a mystery.”

I’ve been told this so many times by physicians that I now tell the doctor as he walks into the room that I’m a “mystery” before he can say it himself. We can figure it out together if you help me. Give the me truth, so we don’t waste each other’s precious time.

After visits like this, I can feel deflated and hopeless. If you’ve experienced this, please don’t let that emotion take you over. Immediately recognize it, feel it, accept it and laugh it away. Find someone or something to help wash it away. Live the day as best as you can.

2. “It’s all in your head. You’re depressed.”

This one brings out the angry dragon inside of me. At the beginning of my illnesses, I was told, “I want to give you antidepressants due to the fact that you have cried in front of me, and we can’t find the reason for your symptoms.”

Wow. I refused and told the doctor he should be ashamed of himself, since he thinks crying equals depression. I cried because I’m upset. Each person deals with anger in many different ways.

Needless to say, he disagreed because he’s a doctor and knows what’s best and has seen others who were helped with this medication. I told him he was fired.

Remember this sisters and brothers in chronic illness land: The doctor is not hiring you to work for them. You are hiring the doctor to work for you.

After being told this, get up, thank him and never return. You will never change their attitude, which means you will never get help from them. Continue to stand up and fight for your health and dignity. You know your own body, and no one will ever understand what you’re going through inside.

3. “According to the medical guidelines …”

I want to tell them to throw the guidelines out the window. Guidelines are meant to help bring you to a conclusion, destination or thought. It’s not law. But unfortunately, medical professionals are told guidelines are essentially laws and aren’t allowed to diagnose unless these “laws” disguised as guidelines are met.

And to make matters worse, the “laws” are extremely hard to meet for a diagnosis. These guidelines don’t take into account that each person is different and reacts differently to the same illness. When you hear this comment, ask them, “If there were no guidelines, what would you think is going on with me, not the person before me or after me?”

But be prepared to be shown the door. Don’t stay upset the rest of your day. Let it out and surround yourself with joy the rest of your day.

4. “It can’t be this or that diagnosis. Stop researching and self-diagnosing.”

Is knowledge power? Absolutely. To be an informed patient is nothing to be ashamed of. I find it hilarious when a doctor gets offended by a response like this: “So are you saying to just take your word on this issue and be a good patient and comply because you hold the title of doctor?” Many times I was told to leave and asked why did I bother to visit if I believed I was more knowledgeable about my health compared to them. Then I tell them I was in the medical field for 10 years in specialty and family care and know how this all works.

Please educate yourself and keep a pocket medication guide with you. You are allowed to say no. Arm yourself with knowledge about your illness and what it might possibly be. Ask to have a test of the possibility of the illness you have looked into to rule it out or confirm it. Don’t take no for the answer. Keep fighting for your health and life.

Personally, I have gone through a multitude of emotions every time I was told any of the four things I mentioned above. A goal of mine is to help medical professionals to start looking at their patients as unique individuals. Stop looking at them as if they’re a manufactured good coming off a conveyor belt as uniform pieces. Throw your textbook and guidelines out the window and help people by listening and trusting your instinct as a doctor.

I hope this helps others reignite the flames inside them to keep fighting for help, understanding and change.

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Originally published: November 7, 2016
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