Recently I wrote a post, Don’t Be Another One of Those, which received so much passionate commentary. I considered replying to the comments as a whole, but what ended up happening was that the flurrying of thoughts inspired another post. I can only hope that it brings some clarification where some may be lacking; that it paints a better picture of the circumstances that caused me to write such a passionate piece, to begin with, and that you understand both mother and child, battling chronic illness against a world not willing to accept it.
As a writer, I live by a certain mantra. My words are my paintbrush and if people are not understanding in the way I intended, it’s never their fault. The fault always lies with me, because I am the painter and I take responsibility. This doesn’t mean, however, that I did or said anything wrong. I stand by my words, but I still seek to touch up here and there, where I can, in hopes of better discourse. I do not ever expect everyone to go along with me. As a writer and someone who has been doing this for some time now, and who is comfortable in her skin and with her voice, I love when people disagree. I love positive discourse and exchange in views and ideas that at the end leaves both sides feeling they gained something from it and with that in mind, that is where I am going with this post.
It is said that setting a scene is the most important job of a writer to convey the intentions and feelings of all the actors. Well, those in my story are not actors but it may have been that I did not convey the feeling and intentions well enough. When my daughter became sick and went to see the doctor at my behest, he did not ask her about other illnesses in a way that conveyed concern. He did not ask her who gave her the diagnosis in a manner that communicated any curiosity of any other doctor in the community, searching out those who treat others with the same thing. This doctor’s behaviour was disbelieving and condescending; first, because my daughter is young and second because she has multiple issues going on that he felt she was too young to have to go on. But the primary issue here was not autoimmune issues, it was her being sick with the flu, and it was his choice to begin a line of questioning, that while relevant, could have been done with more tact and understanding.
We are lucky enough to live in a metropolitan area, where there is no lack of doctors who treat either fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis. The idea that this doctor was simply trying to assess who other doctors in the area, “Might have been a believer in fibromyalgia & might have wanted to know who else in the community was as well,” it is just my opinion, but I don’t think so. As I said, we are a very metropolitan area and given he is a physician in an emergency clinic, I don’t think it’s that difficult of an undertaking to go out and figure out what other colleagues you may have nearby, that treat and support fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Hell, there’s this novel thing called asking. We’d love to tell you. It’s not like chronic patients are hoarding the information of amazing doctors who believe us and treat us. We’d love to shout it from the rooftops.
I didn’t go with my daughter to her doctor appointment, nor do I usually. Sadly, I don’t have to. We see many of the same ones. However, I do encourage having someone there with you to advocate for you. Would I have doubled down on the good doctor the I did in my post or the comfort and privacy of my home? It depends. I’m not an inherently mean or snarky person, however, these last six-plus years, that I’ve been dealing with my health and evolution of chronic illness, I’ve dealt with a lot of half-wits who call themselves doctors, who’ve insulted me, made me cry and made me wish I didn’t exist. So that the culmination of feeling can sometimes rear its ugly head at unexpecting times. I may have fumed under my breath, muttered and in perfect, Southern charm told him “Bless your heart,” and just walked away, taking my daughter with me. Or, I may have released the angry, chronically sick Mama Bear, and eviscerated him. No telling. But this I know, either way, he would deserve it.
This is something I thought about quite a long time: being judgmental. Was I being judgmental? Again, as a writer, I try not to be. Even writing an opinion piece, which this is, I try to be fair. But we’re all judgmental, as humans I don’t think we can help ourselves. All we can do is recognise that we are and do our best to change how we see things. So, yes, I may be judgmental, but I have a reason to be. And yet, had I been there, I would have given him the benefit of the doubt and treated him respectfully unless he pursued things. Remember, my daughter wasn’t there for her autoimmune issues, she was there for the flu. He made those issues a big deal by asking her who diagnosed them in a manner that reflected scepticism at both diagnosis and her age. Yes, doc, young people get sick too and that’s where I feel the twitchiness of being judgmental.
The last part before closing out is this. I’m not your effin inspiration porn. Not every narrative has something positive to say about a situation, though I would say 85% of my posts tend to be positive. But I tend to try to view things in a positive light. That’s just me. Not everyone does; some are more realistic and that is okay. What is important is being authentic and bringing a story to people that are meaningful and that as a writer, you think others will relate to. I brought this to you because it made me angry. I brought this to you because as a mother I didn’t want a doctor treating my daughter this way. I brought it to you so you’re aware this happens, not to spin it positively. There’s plenty of places to get inspiration and positive narrative. But from me, you’re just going to get the truth according to Liza.
In closing, I appreciate your comments all the time. Your readership is what inspires me to write. Listening to your stories reminds me of my purpose. It reminds me of why I do what I do, even when it gets tough. It’s when I read those particularly difficult stories that bring me to tears that I dig in deeper. I don’t expect readers to agree with everything I write and I’m prepared to debate with anyone, but much of what we are debating about here are experiences and we’re all going to have different experiences. In the end, we’re all going to have a different experience that will be relatable to some and not others. But it doesn’t make it wrong.