Dear GP’s, Doctor’s, Consultant’s,
Having become an expert in my own body, these last 7 years, I wanted to explain to you how you make me feel when I come to see you. It varies on time to time and who you are, what your work load is like and your attitude that day.
That make me feel very sad. We know that you have an immense workload and are expected to see a certain amount of people during the day and yes, gosh, it must really annoy you when someone keeps coming back to you but you can’t find anything wrong with them.
It must feel like they are wasting your time. Or perhaps you just don’t like “me?” Perhaps I am one of the people whose personality you cannot bear. Or perhaps you just got out of bed, feeling tired, feeling exhausted and utter deflated because you know that your day is going to be filled with people who didn’t need to come and see you and others who should of come weeks ago.
Perhaps you are just feeling “bleugh.” Fed up with the targets you have to meet, fed up with budgeting for every illness, scan and test you have to organise. Even the ones who you know aren’t actually ill. But to ease their fears, you will send them for a test/scan/x-ray knowing that it is a waste of time, thus battling with potentially using an appointment that someone else may really need.
Perhaps you are fed up of the waiting times for your patients operations, and despite them coming in weekly, there is nothing you can do for them, other than explain you are sorry and agree that the waiting times ARE too long. I get that there is nothing you can do in that situation.
Apart from from maybe listen. Listen to their worries, their fears, read their state of mind. Read between the lines. Try and empathise with them….. NO try and UNDERSTAND them or do the NHS guidelines say not to get “too involved” with your patients?
What happened to when you signed up with a surgery, you got your GP for life? WHen did we start to lose the “caring side” in being a GP/Doctor/Consultant? When did it become about targets and not patients? When did you stop actually LISTENING to your patients and instead you started keeping your eye on the clock. God forbid if you go over that 10 minute appointment!
I am writing this to you because I want you to UNDERSTAND your patients. I want you NOT to dismiss me because I was here a few weeks ago and there wasn’t anything wrong with me. Please just LISTEN with an open mind. LISTEN AND HEAR US!
Do not dismiss us because you don’t like us or have us labelled as a hypochondriac. I know there are some people who do let our side down and DO waste your time but that isn’t me. I am very frustrated at feeling ill, I am upset and distressed because you keep telling me I am fine when I know MY body and I KNOW something is wrong.
I know it took you years to train as a GP/Doctor/Consultant and qualify. But… didn’t you chose to be a GP so you could HELP us? Wasn’t that the reason? So you could make difference in people lives? So you SAVE lives? And I know that sometimes that comes to the detriment to your own family life.
I am not belittling the HUGE amount of stress you must be under, the long hours that you work. The abuse you sometimes get from an unhappy patient. That is all wrong! That isn’t fair to you!
But what isn’t fair to us is when you can not be bothered to even read our notes before we walk in and see you. That you don’t know what my latest blood results are because you haven’t looked. That I am just a name on a bit of paper to you. An NHS number. You don’t KNOW who I am. That isn’t fair.
What you need is a “home”page on you computer, giving you an up to date overview of my health. All of it, physical and mental health. Telling you quickly what medications I am on. What I am allergic to. My last blood test results or any scan/tests results.
You should be able to take a few minutes to read this and understand where we are in our treatment and how we are coping emotionally before you see us. Then maybe you won’t have to ask “so what can I do for you?” You will already know the stuff that is happening to me.
I wouldn’t have to keep explaining myself, over and over again, each time I see you. Its like banging my head against a brick wall. It makes me feel unheard, its invalidates me, it makes me want to give up. It makes me think that you “can’t be bothered” with people like me, so why should I be bothered about my health? If you aren’t taking it seriously then why should I?
That isn’t a good way to feel about someone who is mean to be looking after your health. And that attitude is exactly why it took 8 months for me to be diagnosed with a Neuroendocrine, small cell bladder tumour. It had spread to my lymph nodes, liver, hip and arm bones.
All because I gave up talking to you all, because none of you were listening to me. You dismissed my symptoms. even when I was peeing blood for over 2 months, deep claret colour. You dished out those antibiotics like they were smarties. You didn’t listen when I said I didn’t think was a normal infection, you didn’t listen when I pleaded with you not to give me anymore antibiotics.
You made me feel that there was no urgency with how I was feeling, you made me think I was imaging it. But I had proof the “blood in my pee.” You STILL didn’t listen and 5 lots of antibiotic later, I started to pee blood clots.
Do you KNOW what I did? NOTHING!! I sat on the toilet peeing blood clots and I did nothing. Didn’t go to A&E because you had told me there was nothing wrong with me other than a UTI. I had lost hope, I felt despair. My Son and Husband were shouting at me and I still didn’t go because I had had enough of being told there wasn’t anything wrong with me and thatI had been made to feel that I was a nuisance.
I recently was told that I didn’t know what kidney pain felt like because he said my hand wasn’t where the kidneys were. I know where my kidneys are, I know that dull ache that doesn’t go away, with the occasional stabbing feeling. I sat and looked at the GP and decided to say nothing. feeling utterly deflated.
Perhaps I am wrong but over the 25 years of having infections and UTI’s, I DO know what it feels like and to be belittled by a GP is wrong, I also was asked “whats the matter with you? You are normally so happy and cheerful” “ah…” I said, “the face I show to the world.”
Had he looked at my notes he would of seen I have have history of depression, as well as the bladder cancer, erythromyalgia, raynauds and last but not least the heart failure. But he didn’t. If that is who he sees, the face I put on to the world, then how can I put my trust into him? How can I really believe that he wants to help me, if he knows nothing about me? If you don’t look behind false smile?
I am so sorry that you find your profession is so hard and that paperwork/guidelines and other such rubbish keep you exceedingly busy, with less and less time for your patients however you CHOOSE your career, YOU wanted to make a difference, please remember that.
Please even when you are exhausted, take the time to HEAR what your patient is saying. Take time to try and understand why they are sat in front of you. Please don’t become so complacent with our health that you miss something monumental in your patients lives.
Please, please look after yourselves as well as us. Notice the Zebras within the horses. You may well save someones’ life.
Love Anita xx