To All Doctors Out There: Listen Please
Last updated: March 2023
I recently was referred to a new doctor for chronic pain and I couldn't be more frustrated. The communication has been terrible, and it's really starting to affect my care. I'm not sure if this is a common problem, but it seems like the staff is constantly dropping the ball.
Yesterday, for example, I called to ask about a prescription and was told that they had no record of my appointment. This type of thing keeps happening, and it's really frustrating.
So, finally, we get that straight-after a month-and then the day of the appointment arrives. True to form, the new doctor hasn't taken the time to familiarize themselves with my chart. When I explain what's going on, and they ignore me, it feels a like a slap in the face.
Doctor, I still matter
It almost feels as if once you're of a certain age and you have a terminal illness you're not a health concern.
It's like your expiration date is approaching, and they could care less about your discomfort.
As the new doctor examined me it was obvious to her that my pain level was almost at a 911 status. She looked at me and asked if I was ok. As my eyes were full of tears, I did the only thing that I could in that moment: I shook my head no.
Doctor, I have unbearable pain
I'm not sure what to do at this point, but I'm seriously considering going back to my old doctor and just enduring this unbearable pain. On the other hand, I find myself thinking and talking in the third person.
If you're considering switching doctors, I would recommend doing your research first. Make sure you find a practice with good communication and one that will actually listen to your concerns. It's worth taking the time to find the right doctor because your health is at stake.
Finding the best cancer care
All of this sounds good, but in reality, is there really a solution? When going to a new doctor, will they only see a cancer patient and send you right back to your oncologist?
That's the last person that I want to see because they are a reminder that I am terminally ill and that my days are really numbered. This is the person that insists on clinical trials, strict diets, multiple doctor visits, and countless tests.
Yeah, unfortunately, I try to avoid that doctor like the plague. It's like every time I go to the City of Hope Cancer Care or see a commercial for it, my heart drops.
I think to myself, do I look like those people? Will my fate be the same? Will my loved ones cry the same tears? The questions are too heart-wrenching for me to wait for an answer.
Collapsing into reality
So what do I do? I run. I run away from the appointments. I run away from the clinical trials. I run away from the medication. I run away from everything that reminds me of my unfortunate reality.
I run away so fast and so far until I collapse. I collapse into the reality that the cancer is still there. The pain is still so severe, and my heart is still shattered by the reality that cancer in my mind has robbed me of my active, pain-free life.
Trying to be compliant and have hope
So then, what do I do? I try to be compliant. I try to keep doctor's appointments, and I try to come to the conclusion that nothing has been taken from me and that I'm more Blessed than most.
I also have come to the conclusion that no matter how painstakingly uncomfortable and frustrating new doctors are, I have to work with them until they realize that I’m not a textbook patient. Everything with me is trial and error.
I also realize that City of Hope Cancer Care is simply that: an institution that's endeavoring to give us hope and a future.
Advanced breast cancer is an isolating and lonely disease.