Daunting Doctors

For the last few months this blog’s been dominated by posts about pain and fatigue. Keeping a balance of funny, serious, poignant, political and practical posts has always felt important to me, but it’s hard to maintain an equilibrium when my body feels as badly out of balance as it does at the moment.

For the last seven years, writing about my challenging experiences has been an essential tool for successfully managing them. This is a long-winded way of acknowledging that I’m writing about pain more than tics at the moment.

The reason for the chronic pain and the sickness I’m navigating remains elusive, I’ve had lots of tests and no conclusive explanation has yet emerged. In many ways this is great and very reassuring because lots of worrying causes have been ruled out – but in other ways not understanding why my body’s struggling is makes it hard to know how to respond.

I’ve had some particularly difficult days recently so several weeks ago I booked an appointment with my GP – it was the earliest non-urgent appointment I could get. I felt I needed to let them know that nothing had improved, even though I was pretty sure he couldn’t do anything.

I find going to medical appointments quite stressful. I’m not great at advocating for myself and I sometimes feel patronised or dismissed by the doctor. The appointment with my GP was this afternoon and there was a part of me that wanted to cancel it. But I knew this wasn’t sensible and that if a friend were in a similar situation I wouldn’t accept any excuses for their not continuing to seek help and support.

Fat Sister, who’s a doctor, came with me, and I’m really glad that I didn’t cancel. My new GP seems to be a very thoughtful, empathetic and practical man. He listened to me attentively and took me seriously. He went through what tests I’d had so far to make sure nothing had been missed. Most importantly he listened to what I’m finding particularly tough at the moment, and along with Fat Sister came up with some practical plans to help me manage my symptoms more effectively.

Crucially he also reassured me that I was not wasting his time and that I should keep coming back whenever I needed to. I left the surgery feeling optimistic that I now have some solid new strategies for feeling less sick and sore, and for getting more sleep. These include taking anti-nausea medication before bed and a new pain killer I can use if things are really tough.

I’m sure I’m not alone in finding medical appointments daunting but today was an important lesson for me about not giving in to my own assumptions and anxieties.

I really want to get a clear explanation for my pain soon, but the appointment today made me feel hopeful that, even if I don’t, I’ll receive the care I need to manage my symptoms in the best way possible.

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