Friday, July 13, 2012

When Doctors are Hateful & Ignorant: Living with Chronic Illness

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It would be awesome if as people living with chronic, invisible illnesses like migraine we only faced stigma from people who have no reason to be educated about medical conditions. Unfortunately doctors can be just as bad, if not worse.

Recently I had a conversation with my parents about the stupid things people have said to them about my chronic migraines. As we talked I was reminded about how one ignorant as heck doctor tried to convince my parents I was crazy because I was sick a lot for a period of time as a child. I also found out that my own doctor from childhood to around age 19/20 thinks the chronic migraines might be all in my head despite knowing my medical history. Awesome

I grew up in a small town that had one medical practice. For a period of time in grade school I was getting a lot of sore throats and having frequent bouts of strep throat. On one such occasion I needed to see a doctor, but my regular doctor was unavailable. I will never forget that the new one told my mom I needed therapy. As in mental health counseling. Because obviously I couldn't really be getting sick all those times. Nevermind that there are tests for strep, which were coming back positive.

Eventually I had my tonsils removed over Christmas break in sixth grade, and the sore throats and strep stopped. Immediately. But thanks for making me feel crazy, Dr. Asshat.

During our recent lunchtime conversation, my mom said she'd completely forgotten about that, and I certainly don't blame her. I'd have to forget or else throttle someone for saying that to me in front of my kid, about my kid. I offhandedly responded that I was glad my own doctor hadn't been that ignorant about my health. She said, well, that's not exactly true.

Apparently my old primary care doctor, who my mom still sees (why I don't know because I think she's rather incompetent) has said things to my mom like, "Do you think you're making Diana sick?" And "Was Diana molested? Is that why she has so many migraines?"

Are you freaking kidding me lady? Yeah, my parents sent me to undergrad and law school and spent all this money so they could make me crazy and debilitate me to an extent that I can't work in my chosen profession. Because they like paying for all this expensive medical care and watching me suffer.

As a medical doctor she should know better than anyone that migraine is a biologically-based disease with origins that have nothing to do with my sanity. Further, as my former primary care physician, she knows I've had migraines since I was around 6 years old and a family history of them. What is it that's not adding up for this ignorant excuse for a doctor?

I suppose she saw something about the research about the prevalence of abuse among women with migraine disease (Migraine and Child Abuse), which prompted her to bring up the topic. It's not a cause and effect relationship, mind you, which as a medical doctor should be meaningful to her. But did she think she was being helpful by bringing this up? What if I HAD been sexually abused? Would my mom want to discuss it with her? Or was she somehow insinuating my parents had themselves abused or neglected me? Can you imagine that conversation?

Of course, she's the same woman who told my father when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes that he just needed to avoid sugar. Really? That's all there is to it? Not so much.

On the whole I'm quite happy with the doctors I have now, particularly the primary care doctor I've had since 1997 or 1998. And the past is the past. But this still stings, I can't deny it.

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.