Pills for Breakfast: Dear Stupid

Pills for Breakfast: Dear Stupid

Dear Stupid Rheumatologist,

I can call you “Stupid” right? We’re close like that?

Well Stupid, I’m just going to say it: I hate you.

Today I met with you and I’m not going to lie, my hopes were a bit high.

You see, my stupid pain specialist recently told me to just wait it out until I could get into the Mayo Clinic. And my stupid neurologist did one EMG, got no results, and told me I should seek care elsewhere.

So yeah, Stupid, you were my last stupid hope at my stupid hospital. You were the last stupid specialist who had any sort of link at all to the random pain on my right side that I literally woke up with one day back in February, 2013.

bigstock-healthcare-medical-and-future-50084171And so, between the high hopes and the opioids, I spent the night before fantasizing about you finding a cure for me. I pictured you confidentially strolling into the office, giving me a fist bump, looking into my eyes and proclaiming, “Eureka! You’re lashes are SO LONG!”

After that, you would wave your stethoscope in the air three times and fix all that ails me.

Alas, that was not meant to be.

Instead, you turned out to be, well, Stupid.

Sure, things started off decently enough. For the first six minutes or so, you really did appear to be listening as I told you the long and winding tale of my pain. And when you asked me to get on the table, I thought for sure you had found all that information about my grandpa’s three heart attacks useful.

But no, you didn’t.

Instead, you lightly touched my side, I winced, and then you said, “I didn’t even touch you yet.”

Umm, yes you did, Stupid. Yes you did.

After that, you pretty much gave up — I’m guessing because you can’t truly understand how someone could really be in that much pain.

I can even sort of forgive you for your ignorance, if you had just stopped there.

But you were too stupid to do that. Instead, you looked at me and said, “Yeah, I have no idea whatcha got.” Or something like that.

Umm. Okay.

“That’s just how it is sometimes. In fact, about once a month a patient walks in here who we can’t help,” you told me. “You should just keep working with your primary care doctor to find the right pain meds and just get as comfortable as possible.”

There are so many things wrong with all of that:

  • When you tell someone to get “as comfortable as possible” it sort of sounds like they’re about to die. I’m not about die.
  • Are you seriously such a horrible doctor that once a month you have a patient who you just give up on? Once a month? Really? That’s a lot of people with rare, incurable diseases.
  • You really figured that all out after talking with me for six whole minutes? And you’re so confident about it, that you’re willing to officially diagnosis me as “that’s just how it is sometimes?”
  • If you were in horrible pain, would you accept that type of a diagnosis?
  • I can tell you the answer to that. The answer is no, you would not accept that type of a diagnosis.

But anyway, there’s more. You’re Stupid, and so stupid stuff just kept flying out of your mouth.

You were all, “Well, in situations like this, the patient can sometimes be their own best advocate. You should Google things and bring them to me or your doctor and if the tests aren’t too invasive, we’ll run them.”

What? You want me to diagnosis myself? On Google? First of all, I already tried that. Like every night. Second, isn’t the diagnosis the thing I pay you for?

You followed that up with the old classic, “I mean, unless of course you’re faking it.”

Yeah, that’s always awesome. Throw in a joke about Munchausen syndrome. I haven’t heard that one before.

I thought maybe you were finally done being stupid, but I should have known better. I should have braced myself for your final blow. I mean, Stupid is literally your first name.

“At least you don’t have anything really bad,” you said. “I mean, with all these doctors looking at you, if it was really bad they would have seen it by now.”

You might remember this as the point in the appointment when I started to cry. Or maybe you don’t, because you were seriously too stupid to even hand me the box of tissue sitting right next to you.

Let me explain something to you that — even though you are a doctor and probably went to some sort of medical school — you appear to have no understanding of.

Excruciating chronic pain is “REALLY BAD.

I mean, it has taken away nearly all the things that I love, it has tried to kill me in the middle of the night, and it has even come close to taking away my very faith in God.

I’d go so far as to say that it is literally the very worst thing that can happen to anyone, ever.

After blinking back tears, I finally took a breath and said, “I know that you may not think that what I have is really bad. But to me, it’s horrible.”

It’s a confrontational reaction I never would have even considered when I first got sick. But I knew that I had to say it to you. I knew that I had to work up the courage to get the words out because people need to stand up for those enduring chronic pain whenever they have a chance.

Because maybe my words will at least inspire you to choose your words more carefully next month, when you meet the next patient you’ll give up on after six minutes.

Of course you tried to backtrack. You tried to be all, “Well, um, that’s not really what I meant.”

But the damage had already been done. The stupid words had already entered the room and my eye liner had already been ruined.

Thankfully, you aren’t the final, end of the line for me though. God willing and the creek don’t rise, I still have an upcoming Mayo Clinic appointment lined up in July.

I’m just hoping the doctors there won’t be so stupid.


Awesome Patient

Crystal Lindell

Crystal Lindell

Crystal Lindell is journalist who lives in Byron, Illinois. She loves Taco Bell, watching “Burn Notice” episodes on Netflix and Snicker’s Bites. She has had pain in her right ribs since February 2013. It is currently undiagnosed.

Crystal writes about it on her blog, The Only Certainty is Bad Grammar.

The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that!  It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

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Brenda Alice

Please don’t get too excited about Mayo. 3 -15 hours each way trips and they refused to do mri that would have shown my ruptured disc. I was just depressed and needed to go to their pain clinic that they had already checked to make sure my insurance would cover. I could see that they could care less about my pain or cause. I pray your results are much better. Shamefully Vanderbilt isn’t any better. The pain community is going to have to unit so doctors will learn along with the government and DEA that disabled or painful diseases doesn’t mean criminal. Prayers my friend.

trudy myers

Its amazing how many doctors are in stupid land. I am at a point to where I hate them all.


I have very long, drawn out fantasy conversations with my assorted doctors, none of whom seem to have ever had anything seriously wrong with them in their lives. I truly don’t wish them ill, but it would sure be nice if they could muster up a little compassion and make an effort to understand.

Good thoughts coming your way – may you find a compassionate and knowledgeable doctor on your next visit.

Shana Nagel

I recently paid good hard earned money to a “Stupid” Rheumatologist…after also dreaming, wishing and praying prior to the appointment that this is the one…the “stethoscope in the air three times and fix all that ails me” visit. Sadly it was not…it was a doctor that could truly care less! She refused to even consider trying to help me with my constant, unrelenting and mind blowing pain. BUT she was “nice” enough to remind me that there are people that are worse off than myself AND she reminded me that my condition (fibromyalgia & psoriatic arthritis) is not a terminal/fatal diagnosis! Ughh…really!?! OMG….tell that to families of people that have lost their lives through ageing to soon from stress and God forbid suicide!! In the 18 years I have survived being a chronic constant pain patient, I would be lying if I said I have never thought of suicide as an option! Not terminal, Not fatal……this only means that I have at least another 40 years of surviving to do! ( I am 42)
Thank you for this article!
I have to admit it caused me to tear up a time or two!
My heart goes out to you and my thoughts and prayers are with you.


Dear Crystal- You are a brave warrior who has put into words what many of us actually think. Everyone whose commented on your post,knows what it feels like and none of us are alone in this journey. Thanks for sharing your battles with us.

It does get to a point after suffering with these “invisible’ conditions (that wreck havoc on our bodies) and extensive doctor visits, being told they don’t know how to help you, or what it is you have (as in whats the primary condition) that getting to the acceptance of our bodies limitations- finally comes.

To deny that our bodies do not function like “normal” peoples bodies do, is in essence a form of non- acceptance of our reality. Very much parallel to the same, is all the “stupid” pills that make matters worse, or don’t help at all. The ‘stupid’ comments of providers or others for that matter, who are unable to truly feel what we feel on a daily basis-are the negative connotations that simply must be ignored.

We have no choice other than to seek a quality of life, searching out diagnoses to explain the maladies, while attempting to find relief in order to heal. Perhaps its even somewhat ‘stupid’ to believe in complete healing that any doctor in the medical field could possibly provide.

Put everything into your Faith life, praying for discernment, health of mind, body, spirit, and guidance from the ultimate physician who created all things…He’s listening, He sees, He Heals, He comforts and most of all He doesn’t like to see us suffer…God Bless you and may the Lord’s presence surround you. Best of wishes for your Mayo Visit…Don’t give up the fight…

Whew! I got a lot off my chest just reading this! We need to have you write all the pain books from now on. Good luck with the Mayo, but keep your expectations low. As I’ve said before, we are working towards our children’s and grandchildren’s pain treatment at this point. Through attrition these ignorant doctors will slowly retire and the new med students, who study pain and pain patients in school, will take over. Once we get the believers into the doctor ranks things will change. Kinda like, that’s all we have right now for pain treatment…faith.

trudy myers

Funny-I’m pretty sure that your Dr Stupid is related to my Dr Idiot. He came along when I had to find a new pain clinic-I have lived with chronic pain since the mid ’90s. I have had one moron after another. I’ve had family doctors who have no clue-Specialist who tell me they have a clue. -I have had so many useless treatments and
therapies. This Idiot has me on a tiny dose of narcotic pain meds and has decided I need to see the psychologist to learn how to live better with my pain!!!!-Boy I cant wait to see what secrets I have to learn AFTER living with this for pain now for 15 years!!!!

Mary Maston


I think you’ve hit the nail on the head for many of us who deal with chronic pain. I know that personally I have experienced this several times, and many of the people in our online support group have as well; and continue to do so. I was totally cheering you on as I was reading your article.

I have a rare, congenital kidney disease called Medullary Sponge Kidney (or what we patients call MSK). It’s where our kidneys didn’t form correctly and don’t filter properly, therefore calcium deposits collect in the tubules and turn into kidney stones. Some of us also have cysts that form in our kidneys, large cysts – myself included. This is an extremely painful disease and at least for me, I have pain in my ribs just about all the time. Most doctors have never heard of MSK and look at you like you’ve suddenly sprouted a second head when you tell them you have it. I’m just curious if they’ve checked your kidneys at all? Most people have MSK bilaterally, (meaning in both kidneys), but some only have it in one.

I had kidney stones off and on for years, but most of the time I was told that I must have just pulled a muscle and was given a steroid shot. Well, that would be great, if I had done any physical activity that would cause a pulled muscle – but I hadn’t. Like you, I would be laying on an Xray table or an exam table and be unable to control my tears. It wasn’t until my doctor actually looked at the inside of my kidney during one of my many surgeries that I was diagnosed.

It’s high time that doctors start doing more than giving us a pat on the head and a band aid and sending us on our way. Yes, I realize they’re busy and that they see a crazy amount of patients. They must also learn to realize that we as chronic pain patients are busy too – trying to figure out what our pain is and where it’s coming from and dealing with it every second of the day while trying to maintain some form of a normal life. The only difference is that we don’t get to go home at the end of the day and catch a break. Ever.

I wish you the best of luck at Mayo, and if you want to look me up online and contact me with any questions, feel free to do so. You can also PM me on Facebook.

Mary Maston
MSK Advocate

Trudy McGee

Hi Crystal, and thank you for writing about what all of us have had to endure more often than not. I believe the answers were so long, because each and every one of us has a story we just want someone to hear, because it is so unbelievable!!! I hope that the Mayo Clinic gives you answers, but please, don’t put all your “eggs” in that basket either. How do doctors get to be called world renowned? By being caring and compassionate, and listening to their patients and willing to work together for the betterment of each and every one of them?? Sorry, not a chance. They get to be “world renowned doctors” working at the great an wonderful Oz, oops, I mean the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, etc., because they had good enough grades to get into famous medical school, and because they can write articles. That’s right, they can write and get published in journals about obscure things such as rats subjected to pain will try an avoid that stimulus. That is the ONLY reason they are great and renowned, non stupid doctors. Sorry to be so negative and I certainly don’t want to burst your bubble, or anyone else for that matter, but it is the truth. Not to say that you might find a doctor who does care, who does listen, who really wants to find out the cause of your problem, but unfortunately, more often than not, they like the prestige of being worshiped as the G-d’s that they are. They like their paychecks. They like the privilege of being able to malpractice and be protected by their great institution. Something called sovereign immunity. They LOVE all that, but they don’t love patients who complain, patients who are difficult patients who question them, because they refuse to try 386 of their best pharmaceuticals that give them kickbacks if you fill the script. They love their procedures, because the more they do, the more they get paid. They love the glory. But when it all comes down to it, they are only human, and think about human behavior. Great doctors are few and far between. They are the ones who listen, research, and work with their patients. I don’t mean to sound negative, but I have been in chronic pain for over 20 years. I don’t like this longevity, and I’m not proud of it, either. I just have been around the block a few times, and spent my live savings trying to find answers. Some of my best doctors were the small family doctors who didn’t work with a big medical center behind them. Unfortunately, it was the great doctors who ruined my body, to the point that it cannot be healed. Just a few too many surgeries that were not necessary, but to someone who is living in chronic hell everyday of their life, you want to believe almost anything if someone promises that is the “cure” for your condition. One too… Read more »

Nancy L

Crystal, I am so sorry for what you experienced at supposedly one of the “best hospitals” in diagnosing patients with rare disorders. I had a similar experience when I was sent to one of the best doctors to have my EMG done. I even had to pay cash to see him because he was not on my insurance plan of contracted physicians. I knew from the second I met him that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience. I was told to get up on a cold table and to lie still while he took this device and I felt like I was being tortured. The tears were running down my face and I could hear them drop on the steel table. Not once did he say i am sorry or this may hurt a little. He was cold and mean and I tried to be bold but I said is it suppose to hurt like this? He said no you should not be experiencing any pain. Did he stop and offer me a tissue or explain anything to me. NO, I just had to bare the pain and I just keep asking when was he going to be done? I had been in severe pain for several month after I had a neuroma removed from my toe. Simple out patient surgery that ended up changing my life. But I keep on looking for an answer and my neurologist set me up with two of the most wonderful doctors at UCSF. They spent between the two of them almost two hours with me. I was at first skeptical because like you I had been to so many uncaring, unprofessional doctors who treated me like I was drug seeking or just wanting time off from work. I finally let my guard down and told them everything they asked about childhood diseases, family diseases, my habits, I had never been asked so many questions and they were asked with concern. They said to me, “Nancy, we are going to do everything possible to get to the bottom of this.” I wanted to cry as I was so happy. I worked in the medical field for over 30 years so I brought a dear friend of mine who was an excellent nurse of over 40 years with me to take notes and so she could be my advocate. I was in so much pain that it was hard for me to comprehend and retain anything. They ordered all kinds of tests, labs, x-rays, they reviewed all my medical records including my EMG which they interrupted different than the physician who performed the test. I knew that they were the best of the best and that I would know what was wrong. They said that they would have to review all the results of the tests and that they would be contacting my neurologist and me when they came up with an answer. The following month I received a long detailed letter in… Read more »

Paula Artopiades

I know exactly how you feel – its THAT look – the look like” your neurotic and have just waisted 6 minutes of my oh so important Dr time – now go lose 50 pounds you lazy thing – no way can can you be in THAT much pain if you can manage to get the fork to your mouth” Oh I’m sorry do you live with me? do you KNOW how many days i lay in bed never eating for 24 hours because the pain is too much and i can’t even think of getting myself down 13 steps and COOK something ? and then walk up 13 steps again – no thanks, yes of course my metabolism is off and i take synthroid = none of that matters – what matters is I’ve been in pain ever since the stupid emergency room drs didn’t recognize a bursting appendix and make me almost die and it burst and i spent 2 horrible months in the hospital – hernias and sepsis and c-diff and every infection you can imagine came down upon me – i came home in PAIN – pain in my knees that i WOULD only wish on a murderer and it never ever ever goes away – thanks for the 30 tramadol – so nice of you to think that might even help – HEAL ME – YOU JERK -ok well you know what i DO feel better but yes I’m going to say it to my dr next week as well

Kevin Porter

Wow, that’s all I can say! Crystal, I am so glad you wrote this letter, because I couldn’t write what I am feeling, but everything you said is what I have wanted to say over the last 18 years of chronic pain, (37 years of Crohns Disease) and doctor after doctor treated me the same way, and as a matter of fact, my pharmacist is the one who diagnosed me with crohns disease after about 5 years of seeing doctors and them telling me I looked to good to be sick and hurting that bad, well within that month, I lost 53 pounds with 31/2 weeks. That is when my pharmacist noticed and told me he thought I had crohns, and told me a good doctor to go to. Well, after thinking for 5 years I had cancer, or some other ungodly disease, he was right and by that time my colon was ate up and over two thirds om my colon had to be removed! So doctors wake up! Just maybe if you would at least do some test you may have saved someone a lot of sickness and pain and you could have been upholding your pledge to patients to do no harm and to help the patient have a better quality of life, that’s a joke! Do your job and help your patients they just may be telling you the truth and you may just be their last hope!

Carole, another CRPS'er

Hi Crystal,
I first want to say that I love your writing style. It’s obvious that you have a great sense of humor & it’s difficult to keep that when one has chronic intractable pain.
I would like to throw out a couple oddball things that you can google since the stupid doc can’t look in his own medical references & maybe speak with a mentor or colleagues about your case. Jeez, I would think that there would be *some* doctors that were so curious about some things that it would be a challenge to find what ails some people, especially if he’s getting one per month. What a stupid man indeed with zero imagination to solve the “puzzle”, so to speak. (but at least we do have google nowadays so we can be our own advocate).
People have been known to have these two very different things in the area that your pain is, again oddball suggestions but hey, can’t hurt to start checking oddball things at this point, right?
The first is CRPS/RSD, which maybe you have already checked?
CRPS does not necessarily have to have any appearance on the outside of the body (redness or swelling but can have it too).
The other is endometriosis. Endo has been known to be in very strange places, even in the brain in some rare cases (& even men in rarer cases-I do know you are very much w o m a n : )
I feel so bad for you because I know very well what it is like to go undiagnosed, in my case with endo & andenomyosis close to 15 years.
The crps/rsd went a matter of months but still too late for treatments to be beneficial.
I have had some nasty doctors tell me to not bring in anything from google unless it was in abstract (written by a doctor). So I will say that at least this doctor is willing to look at things from the internet.
If you would like to contact me through Facebook or email let me know. It really stinks not having a diagnoses.
I hope you don’t think me stupid for suggesting google as well but that is how I came upon the endo. Thank goodness I actually had a really good doctor (after seeing about six others) that knew it was CRPS as soon as he walked into the room & saw my leg.
I wish you luck & I hope you get the diagnose much sooner rather than later.
I’m hoping the Mayo is helpful to you. So glad you went on the trip & postponed Mayo though.


I really hope it’s different for you than it was for me, but I went to the Mayo Clinic with high hopes like you. After my doctors at home ran out of tests and ideas, I was so sure I would find answers at Mayo with their brilliant doctors who work as a team and their cutting edge medicine with tests that can’t be found in most hospitals. The place was so grand, with the beautiful architecture and amazing artwork from around the world. I just knew they would find out what was causing my symptoms and find some form of treatment to help me. After two weeks of being poked, prodded, and cut into by many doctors, I left without any answers. That was in September. I’m still trying with doctors at home and a new rheumatologist. Trying one medicine at a time and waiting months to see if there’s any improvement. My fingers crossed that it’s not forever, and I’m taking each day as it comes. Rib pain is one of my symptoms, and I noticed it’s yours too. One thing that Mayo did try that doctors in other places can do too is trigger point injection. It didn’t work for me, and actually was really really painful, but I guess it does work for some people and might be something you want to look into because July is awfully far away and Mayo might not have all the answers. Other things that haven’t worked for me but have been suggested for rib pain – lidocaine patches, fentanyl patches, and acupuncture.

Truer words have never been spoken.

I’m adding this to my blog, http://bit.ly/IPkills because there is nothing that frames this better.


First let me say I am sorry that you had to endure yet another
“Stupid” Doctor, with that being said I must say you have said what so many Chronic Pain patients would like to say, as we have all thought it….I have found just as you wrote after about 6-8 minutes Doctors NO longer are listening they have gone to stupid land. I have even had my DR tell me to Google it and he would test for it. Well My Google lead to a DX of Ovarian Cancer after her did the test !!
Maybe some day the First DO NO HARM will come back to doctors, until then we have to deal with ” Stupid”

Colleen Awesome

I couldn’t of said it better 🙂 GL at Mayo my friend.