Dear Medical Provider,
I know, it’s so easy to see a diagnosis or a medication in a chart and form judgment on someone before you ever meet them. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t. That being said now that I am on the other side of the bed I ask that you hold that judgement until you meet me. We aren’t all alike, just like you aren’t like your sibling or your cousin with the same last name who no one speaks of. All chronic illness patients are different. We may have the same diagnosis and take the same medications but that’s often where the similarities stop. But sadly we all get lumped together by too many medical professionals. You wouldn’t want to be unfairly judged by your medical provider just because the last person they took care of with your condition was a bad egg, so please don’t do that to me. I am my own person and not like anyone else. I know looking at my med list and list of conditions could lead you down a multiple different paths as a medical provider. Among many other things you could either think I am a drug seeker or that there is no way at my age that I could have THAT many things wrong. And both would be WRONG. Let me tell you something if I could have chosen a different road, chosen not to be sick I would have. I would have never in my life chosen to have a diagnosis list longer than my arm. Or a medication list longer than most people twice my age. But there isn’t anything I can do about it at this point. I can’t change the diagnosis that I have been given. That being said the medications on that list are what keep me out of your office or out of the bed on your unit. So if you think I should stop it then you better plan on seeing me more. It doesn’t help when you say “Oh honey, you have so much going on!” Or “OH my you sure are complicated!!!” Pardon my language, but no shit Sherlock I KNOW! I am well aware! It isn’t like I get an award for being most complicated. Being more complicated doesn’t make my life easier, it’s not something I am proud of. In fact it’s just the opposite, it makes EVERYTHING I do so much harder. It makes it harder to treat the conditions I already have, and it makes my life in general much harder. But thanks for pointing that out. Just so you know I would literally do anything not to have any of the conditions I have. Much less ALL of them. And you reminding me of how complicated I am doesn’t help me in any way, so why bother pointing out the obvious. Also, don’t think I don’t notice the comments that you make under your breath or the looks you give your coworker because I do. You think you are being sly and that I won’t notice you rolling your eyes when I tell you how bad the headache is, or how long it’s lasted. But you aren’t. I see it every time. You see not only am I chronically ill and have spent more time in doctors offices and hospitals than the average person, I have also been in your shoes. I may not tell you because I know of the things you’ll say, and how you’ll treat me. But I was a nurse. No I AM a nurse(in many cases for longer than some of you). One would think that by being “one of them” that I would actually get better care. But sadly that’s just not the case. You either get your feelings hurt because I know what’s going on and you treat me like a second class citizen. Or you want to talk to me as though I’m not patient and I’ve got my RN hat on. When I’m sick I’m doing pretty good to form a cohesive sentence much less speak in medical speak so please if im in your office and you know I’m a nurse, just take it with a grain of salt. Don’t throw medical terminology at me or talk down to me just treat me like any other patient because honestly that’s all I am. Honestly though when I do get bad care and stand up for myself and were to treat you like some of you have treated me I would be fired as a patient on the spot. When I do stand up for my self and advocate for the care I need I get looked upon as that bitchy patient, when all I am trying to do is fight for the care and treatment I deserve. When a medical provider refuses to provide the care I need I am suppose to just accept it and move on! WAIT! I don’t accept my food being undercooked at a restaurant; why then am I supposed to accept sub-par medical care and be grateful for it? Sadly, when you have the laundry list of medical issues and medications that is what is accepted from patients and doctors expect us to take that. When we don’t, we become labeled as, “difficult, know-it-all, demanding, drug seeking,” or my favorite “bitchy” when being assertive.
But this is my LIFE. This is my existence, this is what I live with everyday. Why I should I have to put up with the fact that I know that I need treatment and I am being denied. I know for a fact that if this was any of you or even your children you would do the the exact same, you would stand up and fight. But instead you glare and tell me that this behavior will not be accepted. What you don’t seem to understand is that this is my life and how I have to live everyday. Whether you believe it or not, I don’t want to live out the rest of my life in bed. I don’t want to be on disability and I want to get back to work. Like I said at the start of this letter, I know, I’ve been there, I know how easy it is to judge someone based on a diagnosis or a medication in the chart before you ever meet them. But what I am asking is that you change that practice! I ask that you try to make a conscious effort to wait until you meet the patient, till you interact with the patient to make up your mind. I know there are some bad eggs out there I’d be lying if I said there weren’t!! But that doesn’t make us all bad. And we all deserve the right for you to meet us before you judge us! Learn to listen, not judge. So please don’t treat me like the last, just wait and meet me I might change your mind!
Amber & Amy