When My Doctors Told Me I'm 'Fine' Despite My Health Concerns
“You’re fine. You should be fine.”
These are the words that my new primary care provider said to me after I had dragged myself into her exam room hunched over in pain, feeling like the world was spinning around me. I had given her a laundry list of symptoms that I was experiencing, and she had a “logical” explanation for all of them.
“I feel foggy all the time, like I’m here, but I’m not here.”
“Oh, you’re just tired. You should get more rest,” she said.
“I always get these headaches, and it feels like something is pressing behind my eyes.”
“That’s just your sinuses — take some medicine for that,” she replied.
“I’m always out of breath.”
“You have asthma, so I’ll prescribe you an inhaler,” she claimed.
“I feel like my vision is blurry even though it was fine a month or so ago.”
“Maybe you need some new glasses,” my doctor said.
My doctor thought that she had all the answers, but she blatantly dismissed all of my concerns.
I walked out of her office feeling alone and defeated, but I took her advice and made an appointment to see an optometrist. I’d recalled that my kids’ eye doctor had these cool machines that took pictures of the insides of their eyes, so I made an appointment with their optometry practice.
The day I walked in, I was greeted with kind smiles and warm words. “If nothing else comes out of this, at least I’ve found an office with kind people,” I thought. The doctor introduced himself, walked me to the back, and started to ask me a few routine questions. As we neared what we thought would be the end of my appointment, he said that he wanted to check the pressure behind my eyes. He turned to me and said in a gentle tone, “I’m glad that you came in.”
My heart sank. I had no clue as to what could be going on. Why was my body rebelling against me all of a sudden? He said, “I think that you have something called pseudotumor cerebri. You have a lot of pressure behind your eyes, and you have swollen blood vessels. Most of them are bleeding. I want to take some pictures, do a field vision test, and refer you to a neurologist.”
I left the optometrist’s office confused. How could this have happened? What would happen to me? Would I be able to care for my family? However, I was extremely grateful that we were starting to get to the bottom of what had been causing me so much pain and draining my body and mind for the last few months. I sat in my car optimistic about my recovery because according to the doctor, I would only have to take medication and then I’d be “fine.”
Here we go with that word “fine” again. Of course, nothing was “fine.” It was just the beginning of an even longer journey.
Listen to your bodies, folks. It’s unfortunate, but some health care professionals just want to put a band-aid on you and walk you out the door. If you aren’t getting the answers that you need, find someone else and advocate for yourself until a professional takes notice and does something to truly help you. This may not be easy, but it is necessary. Here’s hoping that you will be better than just “fine.”
Getty image by The Good Brigade.