A Disappointing Appointment

The appointment with the new rheumatologist was not what I hoped it would be. After a very lengthy history and intake with a medical assistant, the actual face-time with the doctor was brief and unsatisfactory. I felt like he prejudged me and determined my diagnosis by latching on to one small piece of information I shared out of the forty-five minute history and symptom experience I shared. “I’m a (former) high-caliber runner” and therefore, in his opinion, I’ve simply ruined my joints and have no other rheumatological issue going on. He’s one of the doctors who clearly thinks running is unhealthy; moreover, he was obviously a poor listener or let his vehement disapproval of running close his mind to actually hearing what I said and my near nonexistent running volume and frequency in the past two years and the sharp increase in my joint pain, which, incidentally, is nearly ignorable on days I have run.

Basically, he completely ignored all of my concurrent symptoms that present in other body systems, such as fever, rash, digestive distress, hives, swelling, stiffness and falls, and vertigo. He sent me on my way with the message that if I never run again, I’ll have no pain. I’ve been “testing” that treatment for the past two years and have found it entirely ineffective. It was so frustrating that I had virtually nothing to say; it was because I was stunned and so disappointed that I’ve waited so long to see this guy who clearly had no intention of actually listening to my cluster of symptoms and considering my diagnostic test results that I found myself slipping into selective mutism, rather than the usual overwhelmed or stressed impetus. Not only did he focus solely on the horrendously “destructive” nature of running on the joints, but he also unequivocally asserted certain medical “truths” that I know to be false based on credible peer-reviewed scientific research, particularly pertaining to psoriatic arthritis and celiac disease. Even though I am an avid researcher, I shouldn’t know more than my doctor about debunked health myths, especially those that are related to the specialty of the doctor. That’s yet another reason that continuing education and staying abreast of the latest findings in medicine is of utmost important for doctors. I won’t be going back, both because he dismissed any need for me to see a doctor about my joints at this point (since I’ve simply exhausted the life of the “wheels” on my body and as long as I never run again, I’ll be fine) and because I have no desire to waste my time seeing ignorant, close-minded providers who don’t even consider the patient as a whole, including the symptoms of their system of “expertise.” To agree with the conclusion of a friend, many doctors in western Massachusetts “just don’t seem that good.” (Though I do know a few who are outstanding, it does seem unfortunately common that the available healthcare is disappointingly subpar.)

With that unsatisfactory appointment behind me, I feel decisively less optimistic about making good headway at my upcoming ones with other new providers. At a certain point, you just start to lose hope! It’s sort of like the phenomenon where the wrongful actions of a few end up punishing everyone else because the rules then get changed. Of course, just because seeing this doctor was a terrible waste of time and should I have been an uniformed, overly trusting patient, I could have walked away with potentially dangerous consequences to my body in terms of ignoring the severity and existence of other diagnosed health problems I have that he essentially wrote off. However, I’ll try to keep this negative experience and shattered hopes of a helpful appointment confined to the isolated incident that it was, close it off in a bubble, and clear my mind from the pessimism that has snuck in in anticipation of next week’s visits. I’ll refresh my open-mind and determined spirit and hope that the experiences will be more helpful.

1 Comment

  1. I once went to see a doctor because of a running injury. Instead of treating the injury, his response was “you run too much.” He suggested I stop running altogether, and offered a prescription for prozac or pacsil or some other anti-depressant to help make me feel better (or, maybe, feel nothing) about being a coach potato. Wrong answer, doc. I run ultramarathons. I realize that from a physical fitness perspective, they are not so great, but I don’t do them to keep my weight down. And that’s just the physical. For this aspie, those hours in the mountains, concentrating on the rocks, roots, ruts, twists, turns of the rough trail beneath me, the fresh air, the views, the sounds around me, those things are my anti-depressants, pretty much essential to my being able to function in the noisy big city. My current doctor, and specialists I occasionally see, all say “whatever you are doing, keep doing it.” They like my overall health. It’s better than most of their patients’, and they recognize that this is a direct result of doing what they probably consider to be knuckleheaded stuff. I trust you will find a better doctor.

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