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When You Know More Than Your Doctor

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After moving to a new area I have been trying to find a rheumatologist and pain management doctor as soon as possible. I have never had such a bad healthcare struggle than I have had the past six months in my new home state. After waiting for three months, I finally was able to go to my pain management doctor for the first time.

This doctor’s appointment was so bad that I have left several reviews about it online, because no one else should have to deal with this.

After filling out multiple pages of paperwork that they mailed out ahead of time, I got a message right before my appointment that I needed to fill out even more paperwork online. I spent another 45 minutes trying to be as accurate as possible on dates and times when this or that symptom showed itself, etc.

At the appointment when we got in to the room, the nurse asked me to again answer questions about my medications and my diagnosis. A bit much, I thought to myself, but the doctor usually reads the nurse’s notes, so I figured I would save myself some time by telling the nurse what was what.

The nurse left and the doctor and a medical student came in.

Dr. M went straight to the computer—didn’t even look at me—and introduced himself to the computer. Then he asked for all of my medications that I’m on, and my diagnosis.

I said “really you want me to answer this question again?” For the first time he actually looked at me and told me that if I expect him to help me at all that I need to talk to him. He told me he has no background info on me (even though my primary doctor has the same online forum, so he can see all the info already compiled if he just looks. A lazy doctor is not a good doctor).

I started listing my medications (I have 12) and get two medications in when he interrupted me and told me how no one person should be on all these medications and that that is how people overdose. He complained about how no good doctor would put me on all those medications, so he immediately wanted to take me off all the pain medications, especially Zolpidem.

I straight up laughed at this because as any doctor worth their salt should know Zolpidem is the most common strong sleep medication and has been for the 11 years I have been on it. I tried to tell him that it is actually not a pain medication, when he interrupted me again and told me that he knows his medications.

He changed the subject, asking me to tell me how much pain I’m in from 1 to 10. I told him that my pain level was 10. He started lecturing about how doctors’ pain levels are different from most people’s and that one means that you’re happy and OK and that 10 means that you’re screaming and want to go to the hospital.

Considering I was currently in a wheelchair, he really should have realized that I have been through the 1 to 10 lecture multiple times throughout my life. Again I told him that my pain level is 10 (honestly, I have wanted to scream and then go to the hospital for my pain for the past six years, but that is not how the world works when it comes to chronic pain). He looked at me and my whole body skeptically and said, “are you sure?” obviously not believing me one bit.

I said “yes” in an impatient tone. I was getting so done with this dumb doctor and especially at how little he actually seemed to know. His arrogance did him no favors and spouting off things before knowing my background or even current troubles took him down a lot of notches in my book.

He told me that I need to be taken off all pain medication because it’s obviously not doing any good. I had to interrupt him to tell him that if my pain is level 10 right now that it is obviously doing some good, and that if he takes me off the pain medication then my suicidal thoughts will become all the more real.

At this point I’ve been in the doctor’s office for barely five minutes, and I already knew that there is no way he’s going to be my doctor and I never want to come back. I very much knew I was done and ready to leave.

There are very few things in my life that I regret, but most of them have to do with not walking out of a doctor’s appointment where the doctor is treating me horribly.

I realized that I didn’t want this doctor’s appointment to be another one that I regretted. I turned to my dad to ask him to wheel me out of the room. My dad didn’t hear me because he was trying to listen to what the doctor was saying, so I had to say it again.

“Dad I would like to leave now.”

My dad again didn’t hear me and at this point the doctor stopped talking. It was quiet in the room and everyone was waiting for me to talk (finally), and so I decided to own it and say loudly and clearly:

“Dad I would like to leave now.”

The doctor asked me why I would want to leave when he is trying to help me, and that he can’t help me if I’m not going to work with him and why would I want to leave?

I finally turned to him and said “you aren’t listening to me!”

He said “yes I am listening to you, I’m listening to every word you’re saying.”

I saw the medical student closest to me shake her head, no, that he is not listening to me. But of course she was a medical student so she couldn’t speak up and correct him, even if she agreed with me.

As I explained about how he kept interrupting me, he again interrupted me—which is really ironic actually—and told me how I just don’t want to listen. That I like the pain medication that I’m on and don’t want him to be right. He started lecturing again about the dangers of overdose and medication.

I interrupted his lecture to say that I already knew this and I have been on this medication for 11 years now and have not had any case where I have overdosed or had to go to the hospital, so I know what I’m doing. It was here that I started crying.

He then talked about how I don’t know what I’m doing and that he needed to help me and that it’s not good for my body to be on all that pain medication.

At this point I had only stayed in the room so long because I was waiting for my dad to wheel me out, but he wasn’t getting up to help me and no one else was either. I was done dealing with this jerk of a doctor so I completely ignored him and did my best to wheel myself out of the teeny tiny room.

As I wheeled out with tears streaming down my face, the doctor yelled to me “there is no way you will find another doctor better than me who will help you!”

There was part of me that really wanted to tell him about how he was not a good doctor and that in my lifetime of going to doctors, he was the worst one I’d ever been to.

But more than that, I really wanted to get out of the room and save myself that wasted energy. I need doctors who know what medication is what, and I especially need doctors who will listen to me because it is my life, my wasted time, energy, and money.

I also don’t need a doctor who is so full of themselves that they won’t admit that they don’t know something and who don’t take the time to learn my background, because that is going to help us save even more time with all of the “cures” I have already tried. He didn’t even try to learn about my waist-down reconstruction surgery that really started this pain journey.

Looking at other reviews of the doctor there were at least half of the reviews about how the doctor didn’t listen, was incredibly rude, and acted like they were the worst pain medication addicts. Yep! I wonder how many other patients walked out during an appointment. Considering how flustered he was about me leaving, I’m pretty sure I’m the first patient he’s ever had that actually walked out during the appointment and probably also one of the few that called him out for not listening—especially with a medical student watching.

I comfort myself with that knowledge.

Why is it too much to ask for a doctor who actually wants to help?

This story originally appeared on [CREDIT SOURCE HERE]
Getty image by Sergii Gnatiuk

Originally published: March 3, 2023
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