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What It Feels Like When a Doctor Gives Up on You

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Doctors go to school for eight or more years to help sick people get better, right? Well, that’s what I’ve always thought, anyway.

Until I got chronically sick.

My experience with doctors has been less than subpar, to put it nicely. Quite frankly, it’s been a nightmare. Doctors are supposed to be people you can trust to take care of you and make you feel better. I’ve always had this picture of doctors in my mind being the equivalent of angels who walk the Earth and heal the sick. They’re here to help you, and they’re not supposed to give up on you.

But sometimes they do.

I have endometriosis, frequent large ovarian cysts that burst, and uterine abnormalities, including two separate uteri (plural of uterus, by the way), and two cervical canals. To say I have a rare case is an understatement.

I’ve had multiple occasions where I find a doctor I can trust and who is on the path to finding a treatment method. Just as things seem to be looking up, eventually they look at me one day and say, “I can’t help you anymore.”

The first doctor who told me this was my first gynecologist. I’d had two cysts rupture and I complained of severe cramping and pelvic pain. After six months of visits, countless birth control pills and her insisting I had hepatitis C because I had tattoos, she said, “This is something you just have to live with.” I was 19.

The next doctor was a specialist who did surgery and removed endo tissue and a large cyst. When another cyst came up just four months later, he told me to go to a pain management clinic and get a prescription for hydrocodone, because he believed he fixed all my problems and my chronic pain was out of his hands. I was 21.

Just this week I went to my trusted, current gynecologist because of a baseball-size cyst on my left ovary that sent me to the ER a few days before, just three months after my second surgery for my condition. She told me there was nothing she could do for me and I need to find another specialist. I’m 23.

I’m only 23 years old and doctors refuse to help me. I have the rest of my life ahead of me, but doctors have given up on me. Do they give up because they don’t know how to treat me? Or do they really just not care about me?

To doctors I feel like I am just another case or that annoying patient who is in the office every other week. I feel like I’m not worthy of treatment, because my case isn’t exactly what they studied in their medical textbooks. I feel like my pain doesn’t matter. I feel like I don’t matter.

At what point does my pain become worthy enough for treatment? Do I have to have a cyst rupture and get a serious infection? Or does my ovary have to twist to the point where I need emergency surgery? Doctors, at what point will I matter to you?

Those of us with rare cases may just be an outlier to you. Or we may just be that annoying patient who is in your office twice a month. But please don’t pass off our pain because you don’t understand it. Please don’t shut us out. We deserve answers, just as much as any other routine case you have.

I’m begging you. Please don’t give up on us.

Getty photo by sudok1

Originally published: December 18, 2017
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