On this journey I’ve encountered all kinds of doctors, specialists, and other medical professionals. Some were caring, some were nerdy, and some were just total jerks. Of course I know that it’s wrong to label people this way, especially since I have many wonderful doctor friends. But, I’ve had several experiences with a handful of my doctors that do fit into that jerk category, and two of them are forever burned into my usually poor memory.
The first was a Gastroenterologist (GI), who after doing an upper EGD and not finding anything specific, told me that he has heartburn after eating McDonalds too, and that because we’re getting older, we just can’t eat the things we used too. I was 28 years young at the time! I wanted to grab that scope and shove it down his big, fat throat. Needless to say I never went back to that doctor again. About four years later, a great GI finally found the problem, Eosinophilic Esophagitis. He treated me with steroids and proton pump inhibitors, and I’m doing a little better. I can’t really blame him for not finding the problem, the technology had improved significantly in those four years, and had I seen him then, he probably would have found the problem. I CAN blame him, however, for his callous bedside manner, and for comparing his occasional heartburn to my daily pain and suffering.
The second creep was a general surgeon that I was sent to for a possible cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). After looking over all of my records and tests, he told me that my “attacks” were just due to my esophagitis, that he didn’t concur with my referring PCP (primary care physician), and would not do the surgery. I left that office in tears. I had been having excruciatingly painful attacks for almost two years, and was utterly defeated. That was the first time that I really thought to myself, maybe it is all in my head. But two months and two severe attacks later, I had my diseased gallbladder removed by a well-intentioned doc, who was shocked at just how sickly that organ was. I wanted to go back to see the jackass who got it so, so wrong and give him a piece of my mind, but I figured that he missed out on making a couple extra grand, so maybe that was enough for me.
Whenever you have an autoimmune disease, or any other disease that takes time to diagnose, you will come across these types of doctors who will completely dismiss you and belittle your symptoms. It’s unavoidable, and I guess there are people out there that do have fake complaints which compounds the problem. The important thing to remember though, is that it’s not all in your head! I think if I went back to any of the docs that disregarded me, they wouldn’t even remember me. You just need to move on. The key is to be persistent, and keep in mind that they’re human too. Doctors PRACTICE medicine, it’s not an exact science, and they do get things wrong. Second, third and sometimes even fourth opinions can be necessary. The scary thing is that you may get four completely different opinions!. Early in my quest, I had done several blood tests that showed nothing, so I asked my doctor at the time, what now? He said to me, we keep looking until we find the answer. That’s the attitude to look for in a doctor.
Keep looking, keep searching, and you will find that answer, it’s NOT all in your head!