Do you remember me? Did you even know me when I was your patient? Or was I just one simple problem to solve with one simple remedy? Did you ever even look me in the eye? I wonder what would have happened if you had looked me in the eye. Would I have looked as mechanical as the picture in your mind? Or would I have resembled an actual human with a heart and soul and, yes, a physical body?
Dear Doctor, you’re in too much of a hurry. I feel as though I’m interrupting your day when your day is supposed to be dedicated to people like me. But you don’t truly SEE me, do you, dear doctor? If you did, maybe you would recognize that my pain is real. Maybe you would see a whole body rather than an individual malfunctioning part. And maybe, just maybe, we could solve the whole puzzle. But you’re not interested in the whole puzzle, dear doctor. You’re only interested in the first diagnosis that comes to mind and you’re not open to anything else.
Dear Doctor, you’re not listening! Do you hear me?? Or are you already singing your one solution in your head while I’m telling you I dance to a different tune? Everyone is different. Why can’t you see that?
Dear Doctor, why do I have to beg you to listen to me? Why do you not want to hear from the one expert in my body? Should you not want to consult the expert? I know from experience what will or will not work but you care nothing about my experience. You don’t care that the potentially-harmful drug you want to put me on has given me awful side effects in the past. You belittle me and patronize me when I voice my concerns.
Dear Doctor, you made me feel guilty. I get enough guilt from the outside world that thinks I should be getting better by now. But you. You signed up for this work. You treat people who don’t often get better, and yet somehow I left feeling guilty that the medication you put me on didn’t help. I felt like I had to apologize to you for my body’s lack of response, which is utterly ridiculous. You pressured me and made me doubt myself.
Dear Doctor, you made me feel crazy. You and countless of your colleagues saw my history of anxiety and that’s ALL you saw. That’s all you cared to see. You lumped every problem I had into mental health. You made me feel like it was all in my head, because you refused to believe it wasn’t. You told me over and over again that I needed antidepressants. You didn’t listen when I told you why I didn’t want them. You ignored the tremor of sheer terror in my voice and frightened tears in my eyes every time I told you I didn’t want to take them. You didn’t care that I had been on them before and the side effects and withdrawals were nothing I can describe other than Hell on Earth. I told you this point blank multiple times and yet that continued to be your only answer to all my problems. And while I believe there is a place for antidepressants, I knew in my heart that there was something else going on inside of me, but you and your one-track mind didn’t care to figure it out.
Dear Doctor, did you know that I am not crazy? Did you know that it was NOT all in my head? Did you know I have real physical illnesses with actual physical diagnoses?
Dear Doctor, WHY? Why did you never do just a simple lab test? If you had, you would have seen the clear autoimmune markers. You would have seen that my Rheumatoid Factor is 780 when it is supposed to be under 14. You would have realized that my body is attacking itself. When I begged you to believe that it was not all in my head, you refused to look any further.
Dear Doctor, you messed with my mental and emotional health. You ADDED to my anxiety instead of helping me find the root problem, because you doubted me. You doubted my soundness of mind and, therefore, you weakened my soundness of mind. You made me doubt myself and your attitude stole from my overall well-being.
Dear doctor, you don’t think beyond a diagnosis. You don’t consider that there may be something else. You don’t care to learn from me and for me. When I told you my stomach issues are related to my autoimmune problems, you simply said that’s difficult to prove. And you, the Specialist who treats autoimmune diseases, simply said you’d see me again in a year. Well, guess what, I was right.
Dear Doctor, I finally found someone else. I found a doctor who cared. One who listened to me and spent time with me. One who took one look at me and knew I had Sjogren’s Syndrome. One who immediately ordered the right tests and took the right steps. One who LOOKED ME IN THE EYE and said with compassion, “I don’t know how you are still smiling”. One who made me feel human and let me participate in my own care.
Dear Doctor, you dismissed me. You dismissed me while I was still in indescribable pain and suffering. How is that healthCARE?
Dear Doctor, you’ve lost your compassion. You’ve forgotten why you went into this field. You’ve allowed pressure from insurance and drug companies, and your own habits to erode your concern for those you are meant to help. You were more of a hindrance to me than assistance. You took away from my life rather than adding to it.
So therefore, dear Doctor, I dismiss YOU. I dismiss your lack of care. I dismiss the patronizing looks, the passive-aggressive comments, the know-it-all attitude. I dismiss your cover-up ‘remedy’ and quick diagnosis. I dismiss the pressure, guilt and anxiety with which I left your office. I dismiss your one-track mind and my own self-doubt. It’s my one body, and it’s too important to allow you to participate in its care anymore.
I only ask, dear Doctor, that you refrain from treating others in the same way. I ask that you go pick up your listening ears wherever you dropped them. I ask that you remember your compassion. I ask that you return to the day you took the oath to “first, do no harm.” I ask that you keep learning, and what better source from which to learn than your patients? And I’ll even point you to the first step. Start looking your patients in the eye. I’m convinced that if you do that one thing, you will start to see them as human again. We are not a diagnosis. Please SEE us.
Every patient who has ever been hurt
by someone who promised to heal