Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Beef with Medical People

I have a problem with medical personnel, and I'm curious to see how many of my readers have had similar experiences.  I'd love to hear what you have to say.  This is indeed my pet peeve.

My first beef with medical people:  They don't listen.

Several years ago, I went to see a doctor because I was having acute stomach pain.  Since several of my family members had previously had experience with this same type of pain, I told the doctor that I believed I may have gall stones.  I was sent for a series of tests -- and I mean serious testing.  Three weeks later, I received a phone call at work from a doctor I'd never met, who basically told me I was dying of lung cancer.  While I know that it is possible to have lung cancer when you've never smoked in your life, but I also know that's pretty rare.  At any rate, I was obviously quite upset at work, and my cubicle was not at all private, so basically everyone at work came to my rescue.  It was later determined that I just had scar tissue on my lung from several bouts of pneumonia.  When the doctor told me this, I said, "Yep, and I'll bet you've even forgotten what I originally came in here for."  As he began shuffling papers like crazy, I told him not to bother.  I told him that if I really did have gall stones, that they weren't going to miraculously disappear, and that the next time I had an attack, I would just go to the emergency room and have it taken care of that way.  He said, "Oh, no, you don't want to do that."  I told him that's exactly what I wanted to do, and that's exactly what I did two years later.

There was also the time that a doctor prescribed medication for me that literally made me crazy.  I was a raving maniac.  I went back to him and told him that he needed to give me something different because the medicine made me crazy.  He said, "Oh, that should have the opposite effect.  It should make you very mellow."  I told him again (and again), that it made me crazy, and he kept telling me that it shouldn't have that effect.  I finally said, "Look, I don't care what it should do, I'm telling you what it does do, and I'm NOT taking these meds."  He threatened me with cancer if I didn't take them.  So I said, "My children will understand if I die from cancer.  They will not understand if I get up on the freeway driving the wrong direction and take out an entire family with me!"  He left the room, slammed the door, left me sitting there for 20 minutes, and then came back with another doctor who prescribed a different medication (which was much better).

My second beef with medical people:   They are becoming extremely aggressive.

Then there was the time I went in for a PAP smear.  After he yelled at me for not having one for 18 years, he proceeded to tell me that a certain part of my anatomy was red and itchy.  I told him I did not itch.  He argued with me and told me that I indeed had an itch.  I repeated that I had no such problem, and that I didn't care if it was red or not because no one (including me) could see it.  He wrote me a prescription for the nonexistent itch.  I took it from him, ripped it up, and threw it in the garbage.

This brings me to my current problem.  I was recently due for a stool test.  They sent me two stool tests in the mail, and then several letters reminding me to do it.  I finally gave in and did the stool test under duress.  It really bugs me, however, that this stuff goes through the mail.  I mean, I'd hate to be the postal worker who has to deal with my poop if the postage machine accidentally destroys the packaging!

I am also due for a mammogram and PAP smear -- neither of which I have any intention of getting -- mostly because just before I retired I received a voicemail at my place of employment, asking me to call back and schedule the appointment.  I was really ticked!  I called and told them that they needed to call my home number and leave a message on my answering machine.  They have called me a couple of times at home since then, and each time I've told them I don't have the inclination to do that right now.  At least those phone calls were live human beings.   This afternoon I received an automated phone call from my medical care provider telling me that they had information for me, but I had to verify who I was by saying my medical record number into the automated system.  So I had to run to the other room for my purse to find my record number.  After saying my number, the automated system repeated the number correctly, and then proceeded to tell me that it couldn't find any records for me.  I had to say the number again, and the process was repeated that I had no records.  "Please hold while I transfer you to an operator."  After holding, a live voice asked me for the purpose of my call.  "I have no idea!  You called me with your automated system!"  It turns out it was yet another reminder about the tests they want me to have.  With the help of the operator, I have now sent my doctor a nastygram telling him that I don't want his stinking tests, and I doubly don't want any more phone calls (especially the automated ones) about it!

My third beef with medical people:   They blame EVERYTHING on my weight.

I don't care if I go to the doctor for an ingrown toenail, it will be blamed on my weight.  As a kid, everything was blamed on the fact that I was skinny.  Now, it's because I'm "obese."  And what's with that awful term "obese," anyway!  I'm heavy.  Okay?  I'm fat.  Okay?  Obese?!!  Come on!  Way to make me totally depressed!

My fourth beef with medical people:  They think they are God.

I have a right to say how my medical care will be managed.  I have a right to turn down medical care.  I have a right to turn down medication.  By the way, most people in this country are so over-medicated, it saddens me.  A friend of mine who has some medical problems tells her doctors that she will only take six pills a day -- no more.  If they want to give her a new medication, they have to discontinue one.  I'll be 57 years old in December.  I have some arthritis in my hands and feet, which is creeping to my elbows and knees.  Now that I have a metal plate in my right ankle, arthritis is setting in there too.  I've had mild arthritis in my fingers since I was 18 years old.  To date, I have not taken any medication.  If I had decided to take meds at 18 years old, by now I would be immune to every arthritis medication out there.  At some point in the future when I really need to take something, I want it to work.  In the meantime, I run hot water on all sore joints in the morning.  I type and crochet to keep my fingers limber.  I make a point of wiggling my toes throughout the day to keep them limber.

So that's my rant for the day.  I'd be interested to hear if anyone besides me gets as irritated with medical people.


  1. I will be the first to comment and share my experience with an idiot doctor.

    About 10 years ago I had to have my thyroid removed because they thought it was cancerous. I was started on thyroid medicine. At first I was a lot better emotionally and physically on the medicine, but things started creeping in like insomnia, depression, etc. I went to the doctor, but my thyroid tests came back normal. I asked the doctor to change my medicine or at least change the dose. He did not think those symptoms were related to my thyroid medicine not being right after all the lab results said it was fine. He wanted to give me some Ambien and anti-depressants. I fired him and got a doctor that would treat me as me not a lab result.

  2. ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU!!! BTW you must have Kaiser. One time I went to the Dr for acid reflux type problem. She did no tests, and handed me an RX. I asked her long do I need to take these and she stated "The rest of your life". I won't repeat what I said. The RX was torn up by me. I went to chiropractor the next day and have been symptom free ever since. One other time went to Dr for an ear infection. Idiot put me on an antibiotic and a steroid. I got worse. Looked up on internet and a steroid will deplete your immune system so "hello" the antibiotic was not working. Told him my concern and he said "Don't you question my decision". Next day went to other Dr in the facility and he immediately took me off the steroid. Low and behold - I started getting better. It's sad that we have to search and search for a Dr that will listen and not pretend to be God. Karen S.

  3. Interesting perspectives! I've definitely had my share of experiences with the medical profession, both good and bad. A few brief stories:

    - In many ways, the reason for my kidney disease and transplant is primarily due to mistakes by doctors when I was an infant. My parents kept telling the doctors something was wrong with me, but they kept saying I was just fussy and were more worried about some external things (my head was shaped oddly and I had extra fingers and toes). Come to find out, I had an urethral blockage and when my parents finally got me to Primary Children's when I was six weeks old, the urologist rushed me to surgery. I had reflux and damage to my kidneys from not emptying my bladder for six weeks. My bladder became stretched out. I have had constant infections since and this lead to my kidneys finally giving out in my early 30s.

    - Similarly, the doctors wouldn't listen when my parents tried to tell them I was trying to walk when I couldn't. They just said I was "slow". Finally, the right doctor looked at me, I was fitted with braces, and at 22 months my first steps were running.

    - Lastly, if I'm remembering right, the ob/gyn my mother had when I was born tried to force my mother to get a abortion when she was pregnant with my younger sister because she "might" have the same problems as me. My mom sought a new doctor and my sister was born just fine.

    Now, I've had a lot of positive experiences when it comes to the medical profession these last few years; I've been lucky in finding the right doctors to help me with my kidney disease. I wish there was a way I could be like your friend and only take six pills a day. I'm up to around 30 pills a day right now and most of them I will have for the rest of my life. I hate that, but it was a choice I had to make in order to live. The meds have surely taken a toll -- in fact, I'm pretty sure that their effects are a contributing factor to what led to my divorce.

    My Nephrologist and his staff have been great. They are constantly asking about the other areas of my health (depression, etc) and are completely willing to work with any other health professionals in keeping me healthy and monitoring medications. Instead of just automatically prescribing things based on lab numbers, he asks my opinion, asks about my symptoms, and makes sure to fully explain why he wants to have a certain treatment. He's been willing to listen to my questions and suggestions -- including questions I had regarding interactions of my steroids and its effect on my depression and ADD. He admitted it wasn't his area of expertise and sent me to a doctor who could understand. He and other doctors have been very open when they didn't know what was going on or what was causing the symptoms I was dealing with.

  4. Wow! It sounds like I hit a cord here. I'm sorry you all had to go through that. @Travis: You've really been through the mill! In your case, it sounds like there is certainly a reason you are on so many meds. Sometimes that's how it has to be, I guess. A lot of times (especially with kids), I think we tend to over-medicate. Medications do have their place, though.

    Thanks to all of you for commenting. I feel validated! I had trouble keeping my blog post short -- there are so many more stories I COULD have shared.

  5. I think you should do a part 2 to share some more stories. I guess I've been pretty lucky with doctors in my life, I've had several good ones that actually listen to me and have only had a few instances when I had to argue with a nurse or ignore what a doctor said (and then later switch doctors). You really do have to be an advocate for yourself and not believe everything medical professionals tell you.

  6. gabrielle valentineOctober 25, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    I could write a book. Where to begin? When I was young I had sweaty hands and feet, more so than normal. My six foot one mother took me to the doctor. He had no idea what was wrong. Even I could tell you it was endocrine related but not him. He searched his medical book, in front of us. Then he said he wanted to measure my head for dwarfism. Now, I was already five foot three or four by then, taller than all my female classmates, I was also 12 years old, hardly a dwarf. With a six foot one mother standing at my side. Nothing against dwarfs here, but get a clue, doc! I have so many more stories. I'll return to comment with my laptop so I can type easier. One thing about universal healthcare that is bad (and you know I'm for it of course) is that the doctors don't listen, even WITH insurance. So while I hope for fixes in helping people get the care they need, it's like pulling teeth trying to get the doctor to actually provide the care once you are there. I've gotten to the point that I hop around. I may have three things wrong but I may go to four doctors to get those things fixed. I bring one problem to the table per visit. Anymore and they blow you off it seems. If one says no, I go to another in the office, etc. In the end it costs sooooo much more taxpayers dollars because they won't do things right the first time!!! I like that our office does e mail because I e mail them my problems and then it's in writing in case I ever need to sue. It's that bad.

  7. @Gabrielle -- Wow, that's incredible! Yes, it seems that everyone has a disaster story. It's amazing! My daughter told me I needed to write "Part 2" of this blog post because there are so many more stories I could tell. I probably won't do that, but it is totally amazing me how many people have commented on the blog, of Facebook, and on Google+ about this issue. It does seem to be a problem with more people that just me.

  8. Here is my post about crappy doctors. you may read it if you like.

    I agree they do not pay attention.

  9. @Shannon -- Thanks for the comment. I read your blog post, and it appears you've had frustrations too! I'm really feeling validated! I tried to comment on your blog but wasn't able to do so.

  10. Doctor horror stories ... um, yeah, I've had a few. By the time I was 18, I had no trust for doctors whatsoever because time and again I'd had to advocate for myself with a doctor that was not listening, telling me things that were outright wrong (and I knew they were wrong) instead of listening to me to find out what was happening in MY body. And believe me, doctors listen even less when it's a teenager than they do when it's an adult!

    At least 3 times, I've gone in to a doctor's office knowing that I had strep throat, with the express purpose of requesting a strep test and antibiotics. Funny thing about me is that my antibodies don't recognize strep as a threat, so my throat doesn't get those little white dots like most other people. When I was 3 years old, I got scarlet fever, and the doctor told my mom that I would always have to go in to the doctors and get medicine whenever I get strep throat, because my body won't fight it on its own and I will get very, very sick without medicine. You'd think somebody would have made a note on my medical records! So as a teenager, I go in, tell the doctor I have strep throat, I need a strep test, and I need antibiotics. And he looks at me like I'm a freak. O.k., so you have a sore throat. No, I don't have a sore throat, I have STREP throat. I've had strep throat every couple of years my whole life. I know what it feels like. So then he grabs a flashlight and shines it down my throat. Well, you don't have any white dots in the back of your throat. So you can't have strep throat. It's impossible. No, I explain, it's not impossible, I have this rare thing where my antibodies don't recognize strep throat as a threat. I had scarlet fever when I was 3 years old. He acts like I'm being completely paranoid, but after 20 minutes of argument, he agrees to do a strep test, swabs my throat for a few seconds, and sends it to the lab, warning me that there's really no way I could have strep, and it's probably just a cold.

    Big surprise: A couple hours later, we get a call from the lab -- I have strep throat, and there's a prescription antibiotic waiting for me at the pharmacy. Strangely enough, when I got strep throat again two years later, the doctor had completely forgotten, and we had to go through the whole thing again.

  11. @Music Mama -- Well, that explains a WHOLE lot! I had scarlet fever when I was six months old, and I've had the same exact problem with strep throat! Thank you soooo much for clearing this up for me! I go through that same exact scenario every couple of years!