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To the Doctor Who Treated Me Poorly — Thank You

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To the doctor who treated me poorly,

You probably don’t remember me. I’m sure I was just another patient in a day full of appointments. However, you changed my life. You see, when I came into your office, I was full of hope. You were a joint specialist, and I was a patient with a disorder that specifically affects my joints. I thought if anyone understood my illness, it would be you.

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Instead, you claimed to be an expert on my illness, then proceeded to spread misinformation. You told me that the symptoms I have could not possibly exist anywhere except in my mind. You questioned the veracity of my claims and made me feel insignificant. Ultimately, you made me cry, and I think I was angrier about that than I was during the entire appointment.

As time passed, however, I realized you did me a favor. Before I met you, I thought I could trust medical professionals to have all the answers. Now I know that you and I are a team. When I go into an appointment with a new doctor, it is my responsibility to do my homework. I have to read medical journals pertaining to my case and be prepared to ask questions. I have to bring my relevant medical records to the appointment, rather than depending on you to have that information. I prepare for days before my appointment to ensure that the 15 minutes I get of my doctor’s time is as fruitful as possible.

So, I thank you. You have made me an advocate for myself and for my chronic illness friends. As I reflected on my appointment with you, I realize I should have handled it differently. While I believe I had every right as a patient to expect you to listen to my concerns, I know now that I also had the right to be a strong and educated patient. You taught me that it is OK to speak up for myself, especially when I know I’m the most educated person in the room regarding my specific case. You taught me a painful but powerful lesson that day.

It’s hard to thank a person for hurting you, but with pain comes growth. I’ll be honest; I will probably never return to you as my doctor. However, I will always be grateful for what I learned the day I visited your office and the days that followed. It’s my responsibility to advocate for myself. By belittling me, you eventually empowered me. I am proud of the person I became as a result of our meeting, and for that, I will always be thankful.

Follow this journey on My Crazy Chronic Life.

Originally published: May 9, 2016
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