Sunday, February 24, 2008

Doctors. Grrrr.

Elizabeth, over at Screw Bronze, was relating her frustration with her doctors, especially with how they ignore her activity level, assuming that she just lays about all day. This got me going:

Doctors will simply not believe that you are active. Maybe it's something they only do with women, but I have found it to be true ever since I was a teen. That's when I went to the doctor to ask why my hands and feet were always cold, and the fat, chain-smoking fool told me that I just needed to run a couple of laps every day. I was in high school. I took Phys Ed. I ran every day, slowly and badly, but I ran. I also regularly walked the three miles home from school. And Dr. Fool was telling me I needed to exercise.

Same crap when I asked another doctor about why I couldn't improve my stamina climbing the stairs and the hills. Never mind that I was doing it every goddamn day and had been for over a year, and it still wasn't getting any easier.

Same crap when my joints started dislocating or being constantly painful. I'm supposed to exercise? Hey, idiot, there are plenty of people less active than I am, and they never dislocate a single joint or lose the ability to turn a door knob.


Sore spot with me? Yes, you hit it.

Elizabeth then asked:
Your doctor experiences sound WAY more frustrating than mine - did you eventually start taking a large friend or a mallet?

So, I'm continuing my rant here.

Naw. I respond by mostly avoiding the doctors. No matter what happens, I generally feel that seeing a doctor isn't going to make things any better and will likely only result in pointless testing that reveals nothing useful. What good does it do to find out X, Y or Z if nothing will be done about it anyway? So I save myself the aggravation and just don't go.

When I have gotten things I needed, it has been because I knew exactly what I needed before I went to the doctor and demanded it. I knew I needed splints for my thumbs and fingers. I demanded I get them--though I first had to go through the hurdle of seeing the goddamn neurologist when I already freaking know that what is wrong with me is mechanical. Grrrr. When I badly dislocated a knee, and knew I needed surgery on it, the orthopedic surgeon kept putting me off, telling me to just stay off my feet for a while. Not like he ordered me up a wheelchair, either, so how does that work for over a month? I finally took myself hostage, a la Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles. When he started to give me the usual line, I stopped him and said "You said I'd be fine by now. So I must be fine. I guess I'll start going back to practice martial arts and walking up hills. Because everything is just fine now, right?" This I said though I couldn't bend my knee and it was still swollen. Amazingly, he scheduled the surgery to remove the broken bits of meniscus for the very next week. And he was, oh so surprised to find out that I had virtually no ACL left. And he had seen me reduce my jaw when my TMJ spontaneously dislocated (he was astonished), but he still couldn't put 2 and 2 together.

Of course, a surgeon eager to cut is just as bad and often even worse.

There was the idiot doctor that convinced my 89 year old grandpa to get a new hip replacement. No, my previously healthy grandpa did not survive that. He probably had another 10 years in him if he had just used a cane instead of a getting a surgery.

And you know what happened to my grandma.

I suppose I could talk about the failed surgeries for uterine prolapse that my mom had, that ultimately resulted in a failed surgery for rectocele.

So, as far as I'm concerned, doctors aren't worth seeing unless you already know what you need and can spell it out for them. And half the time, you are worse off for having consulted them in the first place. The worst thing would be to be in your position, Elizabeth, knowing something is wrong but not what to do about it, and thus having to be subjected to fumbling pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey testing month after month as things get worse. I've been in that situation, but I knew I wasn't dying, so I could opt to stop. I'm angry on your behalf that you are being treated as lackadaisacally as I have come to expect, when they should be pulling out all the stops to find out if there is something that will stabilize your condition.

edited to provide context and to clean up typos


Girl, Dislocated said...

I will never ever write this on a medical school application or bring it up during an interview, but this crap is pretty much the main reason why I'm becoming a doctor--because I hate doctors. As a group they are a bunch of arrogant, conceited, ignorant, lazy, greedy, dishonest fools, and I am sick of finding myself at their mercy. I half jokingly tell people that after med school, I'm going to law school so I can be in the best position to sue doctors.

Yeah, I know, they're not all like that, but the vast majority are.

yanub said...

You go, Girl!

I know there are good doctors. I have even had one. But even the good ones could improve their doctoring by avoiding assumptions about their patients.

Did you read the book, How Doctors Think? I wish every doctor would take some time to read it. It would make things so much easier for both them and us.

Girl, Dislocated said...

I almost forgot about that book! I read an excerpt somewhere, decided I'd have to buy it, then forgot all about it. Thanks for reminding me!

And you're so right about how even the good ones are given to making assumptions. So right. ::sigh::

yanub said...

Definitely go buy it. Groopman wrote it with an audience of doctors in mind, but also with the idea that he should alert the general public.

lilwatchergirl said...

Thanks for this post. I found it really useful. It helped me when I was writing my own recent rant about doctors - which, though it might read negatively, was a positive and self-affirming experience for me.

So, cheers! And happy non-medical self-sufficiency. :)