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A Doctor Told Me I Was Faking My Pain

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If you’re a healthy person, you’ve probably had some pretty decent doctors in your life. You go in, get a checkup, maybe some antibiotics every now and then. However, I haven’t been this lucky. Now to be forward, I love my current doctor, who diagnosed me with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). He has been a saint to me and helped me with a condition no one else would touch, but before him was a different story. I encountered a doctor who refused to help me.

I was in the peak of my mess: ridiculously thin, missing all of school, unmedicated and undiagnosed. Several doctors had told me to “wait and see.” Well, my mom and I weren’t going to sit around anymore, and I was brought to the ER for immense pain.

I let my mom describe my pain to the doctor. I was too exhausted to do it anymore. We had to tell the story every few days. The nurses keep poking at the veins; they missed maybe three or four times. They left me with an IV in for over an hour. The doctor returned.

“How are you feeling?” he asked me.

“About the same,” I said truthfully.

“Oh don’t worry, we’ll get the morphine going soon,” he said.

“Was that not what you were doing when you did that to her?” asked my mom, pointing to my patched up arm.

“Well, we wanted to see if the pain was real or if she was seeking drugs.”

arms After a Blood Test
After a blood test

I could see the anger rise into my mom’s face. A trained medical profession let me, only 16 years-old at the time, continue in pain because he didn’t believe anything could be wrong with me. “Her kidney ultrasounds from her last visit were clean,” he continued. “There’s no clear cause of her pain.”

“That’s why you look for a cause,” my mom snapped back.

“Ma’am, the ER is not a place for diagnosis.”

“If it’s not for help or diagnosis, then what’s it for?” My mom stood up at this point.

“I’m going to recommend a therapist and some vitamins,” the doctor said.

“Vitamins? A therapist? Did you check her white blood cell count from last time?”

“She is faking this.”

“How do you fake a count of over 20,000?” Several nurses came through the door and started to hurriedly take out my IVs.

“Ma’am, I am a doctor!” he shouted in my mom’s face.

“So am I!” my mom shouted back. At this point I let out a small laugh, because my mom is not a medical doctor, but rather works at a community college. The doctor didn’t need to know this though.

“Look what you’re doing to your daughter!” the doctor said. “She finds this entertaining. She’s doing this for your attention.”

“No I’m not!”

This went on while nurses took out of my IVs and sent us on our way, with only a patched up vein and no help to send with us.

I’m not going to lie about the situation and say that it made me more understanding of doctors; the situation was awful. If any good came from that horrible visit, it’s that I can give advice to someone else. It provided me the material to help those who undergo similar problems, because, unfortunately, ignorant doctors are far too common with invisible illnesses. If multiple doctors do the same thing, they’ll fill your mind with their lies — you’ll become distrustful of your own condition.

If a doctor(s) ever does this to you, do not question yourself. The pain you feel is valid. The mental struggles you face are valid. None of this is in your head. Other people have encountered the same dreadful doctor. When you’re low and wondering why no one believes you, remember someone does. There a whole community of people — whether they are family, The Mighty members, or friends — who understand and can see what is happening. This is real, and so is the love and support from everyone except the one who doubted you.

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Originally published: October 18, 2016
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