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When Doctors Dismiss Your Health Concerns as 'Hypochondria'

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Recently while going through my disability process, I had to sort through a ton of paperwork, all regarding my health, doctor’s notes and test results. The process was long and hard but I ended up learning more about myself and my doctors. Misinformation that didn’t get to me, which now I’m very happy to know.

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

Though it was mostly easy sailing through the paperwork, it was hard not to read my own doctor’s disbelief in my illness, symptoms or questions and concerns I might have had.

In one instance while reading over my doctor’s summary note, I found this exact statement about me, “She is always worrying about her health. She spends a lot of time online looking for an alternative diagnosis to explain her symptoms.”

However true the statement above, it does not explain everything. I will be the first to admit that when you’re in physical pain and doctors aren’t helping you, it can turn you to Google to try and figure out what is causing the pain. Yes, this process is stressful. Yes, it leads to a lot of dead ends. Yes, just because you have symptoms of an illness does not mean that you have it. A lot of diseases share mutual symptoms, therefore, making it difficult to diagnose.

But that does not mean I haven’t been diagnosed with three different chronic illnesses so far, and have reason to worry. Not just in my mind, but on paper and test results.

Yes, to the outside world, it may look like I’m a hypochondriac, but when doctors aren’t helping you figure out what’s wrong with you and you aren’t getting answers or have a medical professional who is willing to go the extra mile and review your whole history, you can feel tremendously anxious about your health and with good reason: you aren’t getting the proper medical care you need.

The “hypochondria” in my instance doesn’t stem so much from myself, but from doctors who dismiss me as healthy or as normal. After going to those failed appointments and spending money I don’t have to get answers I’ll most likely never find because Dr. so-and-so tested my reflexes and glanced at one of many MRIs and declared no further need for an investigation as to what is causing the pain, I usually go home and for the first couple of days go through my records and see if I or someone else missed something. And yes, Google symptoms. If I met doctors who were willing to work for me instead of against me, I would not have to go home and exhaust every option and opinion on the internet.

Point being – I am not searching for answers so that I can be validated, I am looking for the root cause of my pain so that I can hopefully get better treatment for said pain and live a better, fuller life because of it. Most Ehlers-Danlos syndrome patients have multiple other diseases. This has been proven in my case with a postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome diagnosis and an endometriosis/adenomyosis diagnosis.

There could be many other said illnesses that step into the light throughout my life, I am not anxious about that. I am worried that in my EDS, POTS and endo diagnoses, I had to bring my suspicions up again and again until finally the proper physical exams and tests were done.

My goal in the future is to have a doctor bring up a concern to me about my symptoms instead of me having to bring up my symptoms to doctors and beg them for help. Plead with them to take my physical symptoms and health history seriously.

Getty Image by 6okean

Originally published: April 4, 2018
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