I have been dealing with chronic pain for over nine years. Vulvodynia, central nervous system sensitisation, depression, anxiety, PMDD, and various chronic muscle aches and pains have been part of my life for almost a decade. As you can probably guess, I see a lot of doctors.
Most of the time I go into a new appointment with my guard up, expecting to be let down, which shouldn’t be the standard, but is.
People everywhere have their pain dismissed, their illnesses scoffed at, and their concerns ignored, all with alarming regularity.
The unfortunate reality is that decent doctors can be hard to find, and people often settle for what’s available.
Maybe if we all stopped taking shit from doctors, they’d have to start listening to us.
If your doctor leaves you feeling insulted and ignored, dump them. Simply call them out and leave. Tell the practice about your experience.
How do you know if you have a good doctor? Honestly, it’s kind of like having your first orgasm.
Once you’ve got a good doctor, you KNOW they’re good, and you know not to settle for anything less.
Doctors cost hundreds of dollars, but for many with chronic pain, the treatment we are given simply doesn’t feel up to scratch. Here are just a few of the things I have been told from health professionals while looking for an answer to my chronic pain.
“Well, you just want it all, don’t you?”
My endocrinologist laughed as he asked this. The pill that he had prescribed me had both permanently flared my chronic pain and made me bleed every day for three months, but I was made to feel like expecting more was too demanding.
“You’re too young and pretty to be so sad!”
I love being called both young and pretty, but having your GP say this to you while you’re completing a mental health plan that details your PMDD, depression, anxiety, and passive suicidality is fairly unhelpful.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
I’d waited nine months to see this gynaecologist and was pretty early on in my chronic pain journey. I had built her up to be the woman who would fix me and help my life could get back to ‘normal’. I didn’t understand that chronic pain was the new normal.
After tearily explaining to her that I felt like my whole life had been on hold for the past few years she asked me if I had a boyfriend.
“No,” I replied, confused.
She told me we had “all the time in the world, then.”
I continued crying, unable to explain to her that her priority as a vulva specialist should really be to treat the patient who’d been in pain every day for years, rather than the sex life of a hypothetical boyfriend who maybe wasn’t getting the sex he deserved.
“We should probably up your dosage”
When I gained 12kg in three months, felt like I had the flu constantly, and found myself battling intrusive thoughts, I told my gynaecologist that I thought the medication I had been prescribed was making me suicidal.
I’d been on a higher dosage a few months prior, and it had worsened all of these symptoms. The medication was also ENTIRELY useless in treating my pain.
Completely dismissing all of my concerns – and ignoring the fact that the higher dosage had worsened the side effects – my gynaecologist’s advice to me was that I up my dosage once more. When I began crying, she used this as proof that I needed it.
“That’s a good thing”
After coming out of an investigative day surgery and being told that they’d found nothing, I burst into tears. I was three years into my chronic pain journey, bouncing from specialist to specialist, and no one could tell me what was wrong and why I was so sick everyday.
In that moment, the specialist slowly explained to me that it was actually good that they hadn’t found anything. It was my worst case scenario and the last thing I wanted to hear.
Finding a doctor can be hard, and sometimes word-of-mouth can help. Ask around for recommendations. Search for highly rated and well reviewed doctors online. Join local online communities for your conditions and ask the members who they’re seeing.
I’ve personally found doctors this way, and I’ve seen many patients all over the country help each other out in this way, also. Maybe if we all stopped taking shit from doctors, they’d have to start listening to us.