Firing your Doctor

I followed a link in a blog and it lead me to Alas, a Blog. I found there a well written essay on undiagnosed chronic pain. The focus is on women and is intersectional because it deals with discrimination and medicine. As any disabled person knows, doctors do not always listen. It is easier to get a diagnosis when they are fresh out of Med School, but that diagnosis can be wrong via wrote of inexperience. I have written two other How To posts, and this is the third. How do you fire a doctor?

Step 1. Determine why you do not feel you are recieving adequate care. At times this comes from a doctor being frustrated that you are not magically cured of your congenital issues, and then losing their effectiveness. Other times this comes from sitting in the ER for three days wishing you could just get some help, being told “No drinking or eating, the doctor might need to operate” and being told that they can see nothing wrong with you, without tests.

Lets start with the latter first.

Step 2. Become the Bad Patient, Angry Cripple, or Annoying but Empowered Patient who knows their body better than their doctor. Most people when seeking medical treatment have a vague idea of what is going on already. They know where it hurts, and yet it is not really their job to know why before they get to the doctor. Most people in the Emergency Room are often disoriented, queasy, and focused on a fast cure. That is the tenet of the ER. When you do not get your care you must ask, as calmly and politely as you can, “I want a second opinion, can I please see another doctor?”

Expect anger. No professional wants to be second guessed. None of them like it, but some will gladly send you to see someone else.

Step 3. When they decide to ignore it and try and send you home, you might need to call an advocate. If you are disabled it is easier to find advocates, but if you are able find someone who is coherent to help push for your needs. This step is best done before you are in the ER, but, sometimes you can find a patient who knows how to handle it and is willing to help you. This advocate will help you repeat your request for a second opinion over and over until you finally see another doctor.

Step 4. If you can, remember to breathe between each step, each sentence, to try and retain a claear head. It is horribly annoying but remember losing your temper will make it worse for you, and no one else.

Step 5. IF you are in an Emergency situation and are at risk of death, DO NOT GO HOME. You need to stay there, even if they want to send you home. You might need to sign in right off, after leaving. If you are uninsured this can raise your bills. This is horrible, but, if you are in danger of death money is not an object.

Returning to our first scenario, firing your Primary Care Physician:

Step 2. Write a letter to your doctor, you are not sending this letter but you are detailing out why you do not want them to see you any longer. If you are insured you might need to write a letter to your insurance explaining these very things. You will have to explain to your new doctor why you left your previous PCP (Primary Care Physician) or Specialist if they are in the same health care system. In many cities one stands above the rest for their level of care, my personal choice is to stay with in the system I know and trust may differ from yours.

Step 3. Try and find a list of approved doctors with in your insurance, if you have insurance. If not, then, this step still applies. Find a list of doctors. Depending on how you work you might want to contact your local medical review board for a list of physicians with complaints against them. In America this is legal, if you are not in the US, you can still find this information. Some of it is available on the internet. If you still trust your previous doctor, try asking for a recommendation.

Step 4. Write a list of your known medical complaints, when and where you were diagnosed, if you have any preexisting conditions, and write a list of expectations for your doctor. Remember to stay reasonable, you cannot expect your doctor to do anything that goes against their personal morals or professional morals.

Step 5. Make the appointment. If you do not feel safe, do not stay in the appointment. You have freedom, you can leave at anytime. IF this is the case, start at step three.

There are other times you might need to fire a doctor. Very rarely have I said to a doctor, “You are fired.” I have however, said it most in the ER. Remember, firing a doctor does not black list you from treatment. It does not preclude you from proper care, and it does sometimes make a difference.

Your pain is not in your head. You can find an answer, do not give up. Remember, there is no such thing as Hypochondria. You have the right to proper medical care. If you are uninsured most hospitals have payment programs, or will even waive the cost if you are unemployed or low income. No money is not an excuse for a lack of care. In the US (sorry I just do not know the other countries laws well enough) you are guaranteed medical care in an emergency, and can often obtain it outside of one.

Ana Phalaxis- Super Villain!

I made a mistake. I ignored symptoms that could have killed me last week, during an allergic reaction. I have become so used to stifling my own needs through the years of surviving and it nearly killed me. I also have a limited education by my medical staff on how to handle my reactions, most of them writing off my lists of allergies as an attempt to get out of eating food I do not like.

I am not a hypochondriac. I was diagnosed as one when I was a child, because invisible illnesses are very complicated and my mother never told new doctors about the existing diagnoses she had. I have multiple diagnoses that were remade as adults, and only then did she actually believe that these disorders could effect my life.

I was sent to a mental ward for being in pain. This sounds preposterous doesn’t it? Your child is suffering, so, you have her locked up because it must be all in her head. You have her trained in how to lie to herself, so that she will take herself seriously.

I do not personally believe Hypochondria exists. Part of what makes the diagnosis work is that you supposedly get something out of your claims of pain. I never did. I remember telling my mother when my hands hurt, visibly swollen knuckles that would barely bend, and I was told to stop being lazy. This denial and imprisonment escalated changes in my fragile mind, which caused more issues.

Even now, as an adult, I can hardly acknowledge when I need help. I have a caregiver who I still forget to ask to bend and pick things up. I am physically unable to bend over without fainting, yet, I tell myself to not bother him. He is paid for this, which has helped me begin the process of healing, yet, I still hurt myself out of habit.

I did make it do the doctor in time, it took me three days. Three days of being barely able to swallow or breathe, and three days of repeat attacks without exposure. I also could not eat. Then, and only then did I seek medical help. The last time I went to the ER for an allergic reaction was when I was very small, usually I self medicate yet, I also know just how stupid this is.

This time, in the ER I had an experience that woke me up a little. I had a doctor who not only took at least ten minutes of inspecting my body and asking questions about my needs, but, he never once denied that I have severe allergies. Instead, he prescribed the necessary medication to help me heal. He also suggested I try and see an allergist, because the severity of my reaction without eating the food is rare. Most people with food allergies actually have to at least put the food in their mouth or to physically contact the substance.

I have documentation of my reactions changes, and I do not doubt that my primary care physician will send me to an allergist but I do believe that this reaction will change the level of care I receive. Last time I went to an allergist they gave me the blood and skin prick tests, yet they claimed that I did not react to either. Instead of telling me that I do not have allergies, I was told they were merely minor, and nothing to worry about. They took away the epipen, despite my having gone into anaphalactic shock repeatedly in my life. Not once, not twice, but over 20 documented times.

I am only twenty four, and my body rejects so much but, my allergies are not severe? This confused me, yet I did my best to follow orders, though, the doctor turned out to be wrong. There are other tests they could perform to check for allergies, yet, I am hoping this time all it takes is my handing over a list of the foods I react to.

I am still struggling to breathe today, but, I can think once again. My throat is still visibly swollen, but my inhaler for asthma is finally making a difference and I can feel the air in my lungs. The doctors are worried I will develop pneumonia now, though, because my lungs shut down for so long without treatment and even when I went in to see the doctor my heart was responding to the reaction.

I did spend the last few days reading up about allergies, reeducating myself, reinforcing my value and the value of my body and it’s needs. I need to protect myself, I need to love myself, and I need to teach the people around me how to identify anaphalaxis.

Until this experience as an adult, aware that it is not all in my head, I have always thought anaphalaxis meant I had to go to a doctor to survive. My thoughts were wrong. Some people survive anaphalaxis without medical care, though the extreme nature of the reaction does make this often true, there are some reactions that are still Anaphalaxis that do not kill.

In all of the times I have known about being in Anaphalactic shock I did seek doctor’s care, but, the times I have dealt with the symptoms of an attack, the times I have felt my throat starting to swell, my head getting light, and the times that my hives have burned through me, causing fevers and chills? I have no idea how many times I have dealt with that.

I am going to write an educational program with my doctors’ input to teach people about allergies, or I am going to find an existing one and take part in educating myself and others. Education can save myself, and it might make it easier for me to ask for accommodation with my allergies.

I do not want to spend the rest of my life in the apartment, I do not want to have to hide anymore. I have stopped attending too much of life’s fun parts and I miss it.

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