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.
And 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.
“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.
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.