The Mighty Logo

It's OK If Doctors Aren't Familiar With Your Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

When we go to our doctors, we expect them to know the answer. This is their job, and they should know what they’re doing, right? And the vast majority of the time, they do. They have a suggestion, you try it, it works and that’s great. However, with a chronic illness or a rare condition, that’s often not the case.

My GP didn’t know what POTS was. My consultant cardiologist doesn’t have a fix. My physio doesn’t know which exercises are safe. And that’s OK.

If you’re a chef, you don’t know how to cook every meal. If you’re a translator, you don’t know every word. Doctors cannot know everything.
What’s important, however, is how they respond to not knowing. All too often, the response can be that since they don’t know, you must be lying, or they just can’t help you. That is not OK.

I’ve been lucky. My GP Googled (yes, even doctors can Google!) POTS, and was happy to refer me to a specialist based on the research I’ve done. My cardiologist has referred me to a specialist. And my physio is going to speak to my medical team to understand better.

We don’t need to be annoyed at doctors for not knowing – for the most part they’re (hopefully) doing their best. What matters is how they respond to not knowing and whether they seek out help to make sure next time, they do know.

This post originally appeared on POTS and Spoons.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Jochen Sands.

Originally published: November 3, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home