* * Anonymous Doc

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's Free Diagnosis Friday. Put your symptoms in the comments and I'll tell you what you have.

I'm kidding.

But tell me what makes you most angry about doctors-- your doctor, any doctor-- because I'm curious, and maybe it'll inspire a post or two.


  1. I don't necessarily fault the docs for this, but my biggest peeve is finding a doc I love, making him my primary care doc, then always having to see someone else or wait for months on end to see MY doctor.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I have pretty complex medical issues-- I now have a suspected diagnosis of mitochondrial disease, which is known as the "great imitator" because it affects so many random things. But when I see a doctor, if I don't have what their first guess is, then they say the problem is in my head and refer me to psych. They don't seem to realize that to be a psychiatric illness you actually have to have symptoms of a psychiatric illness-- not just be a patient that the doctor can't figure out. The notes that they suspect I have a psychiatric problem in my chart have seriously limited my access to care-- a few months ago I had to lose 40 pounds in 4 months and be down to only clear fluids before a doctor would believe me and finally diagnose gastroparesis, after several ER trips and doctors visits.

  3. I have had mostly positive experiences with doctors. The exception has been 5 of the 6 cardiologists I've ever seen. (Have a relatively minor congenital heart defect.) They spend about 5 minutes, talk extremely fast and leave me confused and scared (and I'm in my 20s ... worried about their impact on their more typical, older patients who may have more trouble following them.) The one exception is my current cardiologist. But I am surprised it took me so long to find someone who speaks TO me and is clear and reassuring. I mean, I paid upwards of $300 for some of those five minute terror sessions. And I am fully aware that my caring, compassionate family doc gets a fraction of that to spend a lot more time with me - and sometimes give me a better explanation of what is going on with my heart.

  4. (This list is mostly for the oncologists who have been peopling my life for the last few years.)

    1. Rudeness. It is faster to say "please" and "thank you" than to wait while I intentionally go all passive-aggressive on you and slooooooow my responses and compliance way down because you think you are too damn important for the usual social conventions.

    2. Condescension. I was practicing while you were learning how to tie your shoes. I am not an expert in your field, but I am an expert in mine. Speak to me in normal adult words. Do not ask me if I "went kaka". Give me the respect of explaining diagnoses or procedures to me like the intelligent non-specialist that I am, then ask me if I have any questions. If I do, please answer them without rolling your eyes or breathing out heavily through your nose.

    3. Do not take non-emergent phone calls while I am in your examining room. If you do have to take a call, say "excuse me", keep it short, and say "sorry" or "thank you" when you finish. See (1) above.

    As an added bonus, please laugh at my lame jokes. I am probably anxious about this visit and worried about the outcome. Humor is how I cope. Just grin - it doesn't hurt.

  5. Totally agree with Knot Tellin. I would also like to add....

    - Please don't treat me like I don't know my own body. Maybe many people do not, but please don't assume I am one of them before talking to me. I have a science background, and I understand an awful lot of the terms you use. So when I tell you my water broke and I'm having contractions, please don't ask if I'm not sure I didn't just wet myself.

    - Do not dismiss my symptoms just because they don't fit a certain profile for an illness or just because I am "too young to have that" or it's not very likely. My symptoms are real, despite what you may want to believe.

    - If you can't figure out my ailment or test results come back negative, please don't send me home with absolutely no instructions except to take Tylenol around the clock. Tell me when to call you back or when to know if I need to go to the ER or maybe what other tests can be done if my symptoms persist or get worse.

    - Just because I appear in your eyes to be a hyprochondriac does not necessarily make it is so. Remember, when one has symptoms that don't match up to easily figured out ailments, it can be a little anxiety inducing. I'm coming to you because my symptoms have not gotten better with treatment at home and now I'm concerned I may have something more serious. I know the chances may be slim, but I've also heard that the earlier many things are detected, the better chance of a positive outcome. You folks are always preaching prevetion, so consider this my attempt to prevent my early demise from something that could be detected and treated by a medical professional.

  6. I would like my doctor to look at me when we're talking rather than staring at the computer screen. She should at least acknowledge my presence in the room and to show some sort of compassion if I am upset.

    I don't think that is too much to ask.

  7. I hate it when doctors don't know about Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, or PCOS. I was told for years that the pain was in my head and given nothing to help. Even since I was actually diagnosed there are doctors out there who are still think that when I am trying to get treatment, I am just after drugs. Doctors who treat chronic illness and chronic pain by throwing pain pills out at patients, or who don't believe their pain and send them packing without ANY help are the kind of doctors who make me sick. Those that sit upon a pedastal and flat out tell me "you are not in pain" are the ones who I could kick in the shins if I had the chance.

    Long story short-don't ever look a patient in the eye and tell them nothing is wrong with them. I know my own body, and when something is wrong with it. If all the doctors over the years had listened, maybe I would not be a 27-year-old with no reproductive organs and battling hot flashes.

  8. I was going to the same doctor for 8 years complaining of the same symptoms (Yes, I realize I should have gone elsewhere sooner. Lesson learned.), only to have her insist I'm depressed and up one of three medications she tried, all within the same family. First visit with a new doctor, he asked tons of questions the first never did, and started me on treatment right away for fibromyalgia. I started feeling better within a week. Why would a doctor be so insistent on a treatment method that has failed for almost a decade?

  9. I would freaking kill to get a gyno who listens to me.

    For Christ's sake, I have an undergrad degree in neuroscience and a master's in research psych. I've taken A&P. I can talk--intelligently, even--about the neuronal pathways involved in itching. It might, just might, be safe to assume that when I bust out a sheet of paper with everything that's been diagnosed, treated, and tried in the last twelve years, it's okay to trust me that flucanazole isn't the answer.

    Because flucanazole isn't the fucking answer.

    So, really, a visible superiority complex is what pisses me off. Plus that time one OB/GYN tried to tell me that condoms wouldn't protect me against STDs and I should just marry a virgin immediately. I was there to get an IUD. I got my ass out of that office like it was on fire.

  10. How about figuring just what the hell is causing my chronic pain. Treating it is secondary, right now I WANT ANSWERS.

  11. For the love of Pete, do not start touching me without explaining (briefly) what you're about to do and why. Even if it's just to check for swollen glands, and especially if it is for any gynecological purpose!

  12. The one thing that ticked me off back when my asthma was uncontrolled enough that I was a regular at the ER (how I got there is a long story; summarized as "I was a stupid teenager & had docs who thought that once you've 'grown out' of asthma you'll never be bugged by it again") was the docs who would come in, yell at me to calm down (because yelling at someone who's upset and anxious because they can't breathe is just so calming), ignore me for the next several hours, ignore the vital signs I had coming in (including lowered oxygen saturations and low peak flow numbers) and lecture me about anxiety attacks after I'd recovered on the basis of "I couldn't hear a wheeze when you came in."

    Ignoring the fact that I have cough-variant asthma (which was in the handy letter I gave you from my allergist) and therefore hardly ever wheeze, being unable to breathe has a way of making someone anxious. Yeah, I probably wasn't the easiest patient to deal with, but you have to realize that not all that is anxious is an anxiety attack - especially when it's peak flow is 26% and its O2 is in the 80s. That I'm a young, overachieving, athletic woman doesn't mean all my problems are in my head. Sometimes they're in my damn lungs.

  13. I just wish doctors would plain old take people at their word when they say that something unusual is going on with their body. We may not always be able to tell if it's a medical emergency, but we definitely know if something is not normal.
    I once had to convince a doctor to send me to a specialist for what would later turn out to be DFSP, because they kept on trying to pass it off as a mole... I have moles all over my body, I know what they act and look like, and I never would've gotten it checked out if it was "just a mole".

  14. Gastric pain, torrential diarrhea, weight loss, pain right above my belly button, fever, night sweats, aching joints, crippling fatigue, strange rashes that come and go. I already know what's wrong and I'm being treated for it, but I want to know what your dx would be.

    I hate it when physicians come into the room with a pre-conceived notion of what's going to happen. I ended up firing one specialist because he constantly did it (and found out afterwards that other patients had done the same thing. Apparently he's a great clinician but has NO patient skills whatsoever). The new guy I went to figured out what was wrong within a week of my being on his service. I understand that you all have years of medical school behind you (I used to be a nurse, believe me I know the kind of training you have) but sometimes I think the best thing you can do for a patient is put your listening ears on.

  15. I've had a lot of bad doctors and a few good ones. Things that annoy me...

    1. When they assume that any problem I have is related to my autism.

    2. Making fun of my pain and telling me that other people have it worse, or I'm only 22 so I'm not in pain. I have scoliosis, five bulged discs (some of which are deteriorating), and sciatica. I have a worse spine than most 50-year-olds they see and I wish they'd take me seriously.

    3. One doctor insinuated that I was a drug addict simply because I was on Vicodin for my back pain. He didn't really change his mind on the subject even after I got cortisone injections and went from 10 Vicodin a day to 2. No withdrawal either. The 10 a day had barely controlled my pain, and you'd expect me to go through withdrawal when I went off of them if I was really an addict. No withdrawal, though. Just incredible pain in my spine that left me unable to walk, go to school, go out with friends, or even get to the bathroom some days.

    4. I also see a lot of my issues blamed on weight that I doubt are weight-related. I'm sure the weight doesn't help my back, for instance, although I've bad back pain since before I became overweight. I don't have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, or any other weight-related issues, but my weight is sometimes blamed for random illnesses.

    5. When doctors find out I'm autistic they treat me differently, as if I can't understand anything they are saying or like I'm three years old. It doesn't matter how intelligent I prove I am. Even when I'm talking about my past work as a medical transcriptionist, my involvement with national and international advocacy associations, the BA I'm working for in history...I've even heard them refer to me as a child.

    I can't get over the blatant ableism among doctors. I know it's not every doctor (and from what I've read on this blog I don't htink you're among them), but I've just seen it so many times and I can't handle it. I avoid going to see doctors now because they don't listen to me, they treat me like I'm an idiot, and they disrespect me. Luckily my primary doctor is very polite and I have had very good treatment at the pain clinic I go to for my cortisone injections. Getting to this point was torture, and there was a time when I thought I would actually die because no doctors were willing to help me.

  16. Having a fasting blood glucose of 302, A1c of 10.7, liver enzymes in the 100's, mentally confused, and the ENDO sent me home without doing anything. 6 days later I didn't show up for a picnic, and my friends came looking for me. Last thing I remember is them being outside my door calling my name. A day and a half later, I woke up in the hospital. If my friends hadn't found me, I would have died by morning. Don't you think those measurements would be a red flag? Or maybe I'm just weird? I don't THINK so!

  17. Also, my last ER visit happened when I had campylobacteriosis. I was sick for a month and a half. After my first round of antibiotics, I called my primary to tell him I hadn't eaten or drank anything for a day because it hurt my intestines to even drink water. He told me to rush to the ER.

    I went to the ER and I was very scared. Nurses gave me saline and rehydrated me. I had the snottiest doctor in the world who made inappropriate jokes about my autism, addressed all the questions to my fiance, and made fun of me when I partially lost the ability to speak. (Sadly, he has an autistic son, and I hope he doesn't make fun of his son during nonverbal episodes.) He told me there wasn't a problem and I should just go home, after like six hours, and on the way out, over his shoulder he goes, "Oh, yes, and you might have the beginnings of appendicitis." WHAT?! I was terrified and he left the room and I couldn't even ask any more questions...I went home crying and scared. I had to go for a second round of antibiotics with my primary and I got rid of the infection, but I was very very sick during that time and lost 30 pounds in less than a month. A little bit of sympathy goes a long way.

  18. Ignoring my current treatment regime and telling me that my current (or previous) doctor got it all wrong. Then asking me to go off all my meds for a month for baseline tests, which I didn't need.

    I gained 30+ pounds, my pain levels became worse, the existing memory loss got considerably worse, and my hair fell out. Listen to your patient, or take the time to call their regular doctor if you're confused or think they've got something wrong.

  19. I agree with a lot of these, but can I just say that I LOVE MY DOCTOR. She talks to me like I am an intelligent person - even during my c-section when she said she was cutting the fascia and I asked her what that was, the anesthesiologist said "gristle" and she jumped in to give a medical definition - "a connective tissue that binds muscles and nerves and other structures together" - I soooo appreciated that. I may not know the simplest things about medicine, but I'm willing to learn anything from her.

  20. I think my doctor is a little prescription-happy and not as inclined to get to the bottom of various symptoms as I would like. She recently prescribed something for me that made my blood pressure go from low normal to dangerously high, but I partly blame myself for not reading up on it enough before I started taking it.