I read it, and was appalled — you will be, too. (Or should be.) I also have questions, but first, let’s recap. From the page, which is titled “Fibromyalgia — A Horror Story,” we gather the following salient points — the names have been changed, according to the unnamed author of the piece:
- Rita, the patient in question, has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a thyroid condition, and diabetes. She also has IBS (irritable bowel syndrome, which is often associated with fibromyalgia).
- She approached the doctor in question (“Dr. Jones”) for treatment of the thyroid condition. However, Dr. Jones also knew about her earlier FMS diagnosis.
- On an early visit, despite exhibiting some symptoms suggestive of cardiac issues, the doctor sent her husband to get an OTC medication. Yet when the husband himself showed up at another point sweating profusely, the doctor immediately ordered several tests (I’m assuming to rule out cardiac trouble).
- The doctor told Rita that his best friend has ALS and that Rita had no right to “whine” about her problems, the clear implication being that ALS is a real disease but FMS … isn’t?
- Despite several therapists and psychologists concurring that Rita had no psychological issues, other than the mild and occasional depressive episode that accompanies nearly all chronic pain conditions, Dr. Jones repeatedly insisted that Rita had some sort of psychological disorder. This insistence apparently was the primary focus of her visits with this doctor, instead of the thyroid treatment she had sought from him.
- Ultimately, after an abusive visit, Rita lost her cool and said “Maybe I should stop taking my medications and die. Then maybe an autopsy would prove that I am sick!”
- That was all the ammunition this doctor needed to have Rita held on a 72-hour suicide watch in a local mental health facility based on his insistence that she was bipolar and a danger to herself and/or others.
I won’t go into the horrors of that situation. Anyone with half a brain can imagine. All I can think right now is, “Here we go again.” But before I rant, a warning to all chronic pain patients — and a “Yeah BUT” to that warning, which is just as important — so promise me you’ll read both, OK? OK — here’s the warning:
If you say ANYTHING in front of a doctor that could potentially be interpreted as a threat to kill yourself, or harm anyone else — even if it’s said off the cuff, or in jest — you could be subjected to a hold just like Rita was.
Just don’t do it. Ever. Now, here’s the Yeah BUT:
If you are feeling suicidal, you need to tell your therapist or doctor immediately and ask for help.
I hope that makes sense. Where Rita went wrong was in assuming that Dr. Jones would act rationally, even after his refusal to treat her for the problem she came to him for — the thyroid treatment — made it patently clear that he was not rational.
Rita should also have bolted the minute this idiot opened his mouth to denigrate her, or her condition. The second he didn’t at least make an inquiry into a possible cardiac issue with her symptoms.
Am I being too tough on Rita? No, not at all — I hope it’s clear to all that the problem here was Dr. Jones, not Rita.
But here’s the thing, friends: There are LOTS of Dr. Joneses out there, and they cannot be allowed to treat us. As soon as you know or even have reason to suspect that you’ve found an Unbeliever, you need to leave.
I know it’s unfair. It’s putting the responsibility on you, the patient, instead of (pardon me) the asshole who’s causing the problem. You shouldn’t have to go find another doctor to treat you like a human being with rationality and respect.
But you do, and you must.
Guys — by which I mean ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages and their parents — we can no longer afford to mollycoddle these medical pretenders providers. I used to think the unbelievers were a small minority — a vocal one, to be sure, but small enough to ignore.
Then came the NY Times article questioning the “realness” of our very real disease. Then came another piece, this one by CNN. And now, with Rita’s story — with the story recently of a woman suffering from FMS who will go down in history as the first person in the UK with “fibromyalgia” as the cause of her death, all because her Dr. Jones thought she was crazy, too — well, folks, the conclusion is inescapable:
We are at war.
And it’s time we (by which I mean all chronic pain patients) started getting a little more assertive about our rights and our health.