How’s that for bedside manner?

After I stopped the Z-pack, I fought tooth and nail against going back to the doctor. I just wanted to be done. I didn’t want to deal with any of it. If you’ve ever encountered negative emotional effects from medication, you’ve probably felt the same.

Back story:
I started avoiding my family doctor because I never felt like she was listening to me, or taking what I said into consideration. It may sound counter-intuitive (because it pretty much is) but I started going to walk in/urgent care clinics when I had to see a doctor. Mostly because it was easier to explain the bare minimum and just get whatever antibiotics I needed and leave.

So, my parents ended up talking me into going to see a different doctor late one night when I was having a bad sinus headache. We all know you are not supposed to stop taking antibiotics mid-course, so I figured I needed to make sure my ears and sinuses were cleared up anyway.

From the moment I started to explain to the nurse what had happened with the Z-pack I knew that everything I said was going to be disregarded. When the doctor came in I re-explained the situation I was in, and she told me that rage is not a reaction she has ever encountered. The way she was talking to me was obviously dumbed down, and I felt that she was talking down to me, like she thought I was stupid and needed things spelled out. Well I reiterated my conversation with the pharmacist. She acted as if I was the one insulting HER intelligence. After she quickly flashed her scope in my ears, nose and mouth, she concluded that I did not have a sinus infection or an ear infection.  Then she proceeded to tell me that I probably never had one, that I just think I do. (I mean forget that it was another doctor who diagnosed it) She said that I had been there in April and May for the same thing. WELL, I had not been there in over a year, and I told her that. “Well the computer records show blah blah blah.” For a minute I thought maybe I was losing it, but I knew I wasn’t and I just let it go. She offered me the option of a CT scan to look at my sinuses, I do get sinus infections frequently, so I figured why not. After I was done, she came back in with the results and told me that I did have a sinus infection and that it was healing up, NO SHIT?! She acted surprised. Ya, okay lady.

So, from there she decided that I was cleared up enough to not need to start up another antibiotic course. And that was the basis of my visit in the first place, I just needed to know that. As I am writing this, I can’t remember a time where I left a doctors office empty handed, whether I needed/wanted anything or not. Staying true to that form, she decided that a cortisone shot would reduce swelling, therefore ease my sinus pain.

And this is the point of the story where things go from passive to full on aggressive. And I am responsible for neither.

I explained to her the effects of bipolar+cortisone. I have experienced it myself and I explained that from what I understand it is not uncommon at all. Before she shuffled out she said that she would find something else. The nurse came in, syringe in hand and began pulling out alcohol pads from a drawer. Double checking, I asked her what it was. Take a wild guess at what she said…CORTISONE. I told her that I had already discussed the shot with the doctor and I did not want that. In typical grown adult fashion, the nurse handled my rejection quite well. She opened the drawer, threw that alcohol pads down into it, instead of placing them in the box they came from. She then looked at me and said “Well, I suppose you have the right to refuse whatever you want…don’t you?” Then she all but stormed out, walking with angry intent, and shutting the door loudly.

What did she/they think, that I am unreasonably, stupid, lying? That she could just sneak it by me because I don’t know what I am talking about? I guess it was your average “if I don’t understand or physically see it, then it doesn’t exist.” That is what I call purposeful ignorance. I think you make a conscious choice to try to understand something or not, to listen to others, etc. and she wasn’t.

Before I left (because ya know, I couldn’t go home empty handed because then they wouldn’t have done their job) she said she was going to write me a script for Tramadol. Of course it didn’t matter that I said exactly this “I don’t need anything for pain, the purpose of my visit was to make sure that I didn’t need more antibiotics because I don’t want to get worse. I am not worried about the pain, it’s not that bad.” She insisted on a “just in case” basis. Now, I can’t ( I should say shouldn’t because I’ve taken a half in endometriosis pain emergencies) take Tramadol because it interacts with Lithium. However, I wasn’t going to start on that, at this point I was done and I wanted to leave. And you know I DIDN’T NEED ANY PAIN MEDICATION and I had no intention of filling it.

The nurse came in with the script and said “Dr. ________ just double checked LAST MINUTE and saw that Tramadol interacts with Lithium. My head about exploded when she said “last minute,” so if I wasn’t aware of that and I did need it, she would have given that to me and then who knows what. Because doctors have the ability to prescribe medication, you’d think that writing the right one would be a pretty high priority. Nevertheless, she handed me a script for Tylenol with Codeine. Which ya know, it doesn’t say on my file that I can’t take codeine for multiple reasons. P.S. IT DOES.

I gave up. Jesus Christ. I mean, really? Did all of that just happen?

I cried most of the way home. The tears were falling out of frustration, disbelief, and truth be told my feelings were a little hurt because of the way I was treated. The whole visit created a ripple effect over the next few days of me incessantly worrying that no one believes me. Maybe they all think I’m a hypochondriac, that I make things up and create excuses for myself. Blah blah blah.

So to wrap up this long winded tale, I am still frustrated. At times I feel like the medical field is failing me. Failing everyone. That the days of a decent amount of people becoming doctors because they want to help people are gone.

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3 thoughts on “How’s that for bedside manner?

  1. What you describe makes my heart hurt for you. It was blatant and humiliating stigmatization and discrimination. I’m so sorry that you had to go through all of this.

  2. Every person with bipolar that I know becomes an expert on their meds, the side effects, the weird interactions, etc. I usually take the script, wad it up, and place it in the trash when something like this happens (not to your level, but the steroids really mess with me). Fortunately I have a good friend who is a pharmacist; I bounce every med off of him and he will always give me the scoop. Long story short: find yourself a good pharmacist and talk to him about every med you take or are prescribed. (Walgreens and CVS are not good places to find a good pharmacist. If you can find a compounding pharmacist they are the best. Second would be an independent small store pharmacist)

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