Yesterday, I had to go to visit my doctor, and while the reason wasn’t a good reason, and the outcome is not as positive as I could wish, I have to say the experience was very good.
I’ve written in the past about my problems with doctors, how they look at me and attribute everything that is wrong with me to me being fat. And how that’s made me reluctant to go to the doctor at all.
There are four doctors in this practice, and I’ve seen every single one of them since October of last year. All the doctors are professional, competent, and best of all, compassionate.
The first thing the doctor said to me yesterday, trying to put me at ease (because the problem really is worrisome), was “You’ve not been back to see me in a while. Don’t you like me anymore?” She said it with a smile, and it was obvious she was teasing. We talked a bit about my problem, and then she asked me when my last mammogram was.
I know I gave her the deer in the headlights look. I admitted I never had one, and she took my chart (which she had in her hand) and proceeded to pretend to hit me over the head with it. (No, she never touched me, and it was absolutely done in a teasing manner, and while maybe unprofessional, it was okay.) I told her “hey! Hitting the patient isn’t allowed!”
So, we discussed why I’ve not had a mammogram and my reluctance to even go to doctors. I was totally honest with her, and told her that now that I’ve found a practice that doesn’t make everything about my weight, I’m finding I’m more willing to do what the doctors say about preventative practices (like the mammograms).
She asked me what my experience had been, and I told her the truth. I told her about how, in the past, when I’d go to doctors concerned about my amenorrhea, and stating I wanted to do what I could to become pregnant, how many doctors would just put me on the birth control pill to get me a bleeding every month. About other doctors who, upon hearing that I couldn’t become pregnant no matter what, told me to lose weight, and when I didn’t, said I obviously didn’t want to have children. I told her about how most times, everything I said about what I ate, how much exercise I did was was taken by the doctors to be a lie.
As I talked to her, I watched her face. There was anger in her eyes. Genuine anger FOR me. She asked when I was diagnosed with PCOS, and I told her 1998. She asked when the amenorrhea started. When I was 15 (1982). She asked did nobody ever try and find out why there was amenorrhea when I young, married, and wanting children? I told her no, they just all blamed my weight and said I wasn’t trying hard enough to lose weight.
She really was angry on my behalf on how I’d been treated all these years. Especially when she found out that the first time I was told my weight was what caused my amenorrhea I only weighed 160lbs. She confirmed something I’ve known for a long time: being 40lbs over “ideal” weight wasn’t a cause of my amenorrhea, and the doctor (and subsequent doctors) should have looked harder for the real cause.
It was refreshing to hear a doctor say that.
We then continued talking about why I went to see her yesterday, and we’ve discussed the next steps. In that discussion, she talked “mean” to me (and even said, “I’m going to be mean now, if I scare you, good! I want to scare you!”) but I could tell it came from her caring, from her compassion. She’s one of the doctors who feels she is in a battle with death and disease. She knows, eventually, death will win, but she absolutely hates it when death wins and it didn’t have to.
I have doctors now who I can talk to, who listen to me and believe me when I tell them things. Who value my input as the person who lives in the body. Who see our relationship as a partnership: they have the medical knowledge to figure out what my symptoms mean, I have the intimate relationship with my body to know that this or that thing is wrong for me. And who know that keeping death or disease at bay for as long as possible takes both of us doing our jobs.
These people are definitely keepers.
And I can absolutely say that I will be much more likely to listen to them, and follow any advice they give me. After all, I know they are working with me to try and help me be as healthy as I can.
I am so lucky I found this practice. It only took my whole adult life to find them.