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Dear Doctor…


Dear Doctor,

I need to be able to trust you.  I am not a healthy patient or I would not need your services.  I need to be treated not only medically, but also with respect and dignity as a patient in your care.  I need to be regarded as a valuable human individual, regardless of my age, gender, ethnicity, financial status, or any other defining characteristics.  I have rights as a patient.

As a patient, my needs come first, not your reputation.  Not your “scores”.  Not your time.  Not your students.  Me.  I am ill… and the honest truth is that when treated well, you could not ask for a better patient than me, because I want to take care of myself.  It’s just that sometimes I can’t do it on your schedule, because your schedule does not exist in my daily life.  Mine does.  What exists in my life is bills (besides the ones from you), and expenses like food, fuel in my car, house payments, all other manner of care items from taking care of my fragile hair down to clipping my toenails that seem to be getting harder to reach each year.  What’s important to me is getting my tires rotated, changing the oil, and wondering what that noise is that is driving me nuts every time I drive somewhere.  Important is trying to keep dishes washed, and make sure I don’t run out of things like drinking water, healthy fresh foods, and basics like bathroom tissue and toothpaste.  It’s critical that I can fill the medications I cannot go without, and get the supplements that keep me feeling reasonably functional.  Those are just the financial stresses (and add into that the unexpected emergencies, and things like dental and eye care that I really can’t afford anyway).  That doesn’t account for what my entire day is like, from waking up feeling beat, and trying to brush my hair without dropping my hairbrush, to worrying about aging parents and growing godchildren that I have so little energy to give time to.  My day… my world… is about all of those things before I even cross the threshold of your office.  You’re a blip on my radar, and yet… I give you undivided attention and time once there.  I deserve the same in return.

I’ll reiterate: As an individual, you could not ask for a better patient.  One of you once told me not to expect.  Not to expect much recovery.  Not to expect improvement.  They used the word “permanent” (damage), and they were wrong.  So why should I trust anyone now?  Yet… I do try to do so.  I have proven that I am dedicated to taking care of my health (and my heart) by proving that bad prognosis wrong.  By exercising, changing the way that I eat, and taking the right meds and supplements… by doing what I said I would do.  To act like I won’t is an insult, and because of my life which keeps happening when you are not around, I cannot help that sometimes it takes me longer than you wish it would to get some appointments or tests done.  I don’t always have the money.  I used to have great health insurance, by the way, Doc.  I had it covered.  Now… the insurance carrier is the only one that seems to care less than you do.  I pay, and I pay, and I pay… and they don’t pay.  So yes, it takes me time to set aside enough to take care of what YOU want done, and it’s not my fault.  I’m doing the best that I can.  I’m human.  While you are considering that statement about me being human, please realize that my medical needs don’t stop while I’m struggling to meet your personal guidelines of what you think has to happen.  Holding medication refills hostage seems to me to fall into a malpractice category of failure to treat.  That seems to be the new practice too.  “Sorry you can’t afford to see me AND refill your meds, but you have to see me… even though you won’t be able to pay for the refills I will give you after you’ve run in and out of my office several times a year.”  I’d like to hear you just say it that way once to be honest.  Apparently that’s my problem, not yours, so you can’t be bothered to help with it.  I’m doing the best that I can… so, why aren’t you?

By the way, your veneers are great.  You have a beautiful smile.  I’d like to get some work done myself that is concerning so I can chew without pain.  I’m willing to bet I can’t afford your dentist, so I don’t need a referral on that… thanks.  But you.. you look great.

There was a time, Doc… when physicians worked with their patients and listened to their needs as an individual.  Humanity has been shoved into a crate and warehoused.  While I choke on my $45 copay, remembering when it was $25, you’re happily cashing in on the $450 you charge my insurance company and I guess because of that… you think it’s chump change I’m putting out.  That $45 is a tank of gas.  It’s a week of groceries.  It’s my water bill.  It’s some basic and essential need.

I live with a stress-triggered illness.  You and your agenda should not be a source of stress for me.  Your job is to assist me in staying well and reducing stress, but these days it seems like you are working overtime to make my life even more difficult.  Try not to forget that when I leave your office, I have to go home and recover from the fluorescent lights, exposure to noise and temp changes, and unfamiliar environment, and people poking and prodding and asking intrusive questions, and feeling like a guinea pig… and I started off tired so now I am exhausted.  Believing that you are at least sensitive to how this visit will demolish the rest of my day would help.  I only have enough energy for just so many tasks per day.  Doctor appointments cut into the energy for the next day as well as this one.  That’s a big deal in my world.

In this… I am not unique.  Everyone needs a care provider that actually provides care, and that they can trust, and on a daily basis I am seeing less and less provision for needs.  Stop blaming “guidelines” and insurance companies and take personal responsibility for your own actions, Doc.  Compassion and respect don’t cost you a dime and they should be part of your routine.

Signed,
The 1.5 Million Lupus patients in the United States

 

 

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