Advocate for your Health Care

I explained the ongoing list of symptoms to the fourth doctor I had visited in a year. My mother had fired the previous one because she was frustrated with the lack of progress in obtaining a diagnosis. I observed the doctor’s eyebrows raise, and sensed her quick judgement. I knew what she was thinking as she listened to me describe the nonsensical symptoms of high blood pressure, weight loss, high resting heart rate, inability to focus, fatigue, blurry vision, bone pain, etc. I could sense her judgment. Her assumptions were overwhelming and she had not even verbally expressed them yet. Much like all the other doctors, she had spent five minutes asking the typical hormone and stress-related questions before incorrectly diagnosing me. I looked healthy on the outside. I was sleeping a lot, but keeping up with schoolwork. She had zero interest in really engaging and taking me seriously. The previous week, my cure was supposed to come from more rest and this week it was a migraine pill. Although my mother expressed firmly that I never had headaches, and the only real headaches occurred when I ended up in the local emergency room in a hypertensive crisis state, the doctor was firm and insisted migraines were the cause of all my symptoms. I sat quietly and just stared at my mom in disbelief. I felt too ashamed and feared I would be labeled as crazy if I argued. Was the doctor right?

The average doctor spends 13-16 minutes with a patient before presenting a medical diagnosis (Here’s). Patients often view themselves as inferior to physicians and many leave their appointments unsatisfied with the results. I had approximately 15 doctors’ visits within six months. Every time I left with a pit in my stomach. I began experiencing extreme self-doubt. Was all of this in my head?

As of November of 2016, it had been almost a year of struggling with my health issues. After the advice of a yet another new doctor, I was taken to IU Methodist where I was hospitalized for three days. I received more care and attention in three days than I had received in a year from my local doctor’s office and hospital. Methodist doctors found a nodule on my thyroid that looked “hot”, a term that means active and potentially cancerous. After a needle biopsy, the nodule was determined as non-cancerous, eventually I was diagnosed with abnormal thyroid levels. In three days, I had made more progress in getting answers than I had in nearly a year and a half with my local physicians. All it took was for a doctor to slow down, listen, and decide to start running tests until something was found. He saw the symptoms and said to me, “This is not right. You are 19 years old and something is obviously wrong.”

Doctors are not perfect. In fact, I have learned they are far from it. It is a serious issue to feel undermined or insecure because of the attitude of your health-care provider. It is important to remember that doctors work for you. I have learned to never be the girl who sits in a doctor’s office feeling embarrassed for physical symptoms that impact my emotional well being and for expressing to doctors what I need from them. You live in your body every day. Be aware of abnormalities and push for results until your health care needs are met. Sick people can look healthy. The term woman should not be synonymous with over-emotional, hormonal, and unable to cope with stress. Young is not synonymous for healthy and doctor is not synonymous for right.

Works Cited

Erin Brodwin.Here’s how many minutes the average doctor actually spends with each patient.Business Insider.2016.Web.

Author- Hannah Graham