Friday, February 1, 2008

Sticking Up for Yourself (and I Don't Mean Knitting Needles)

So. An entry or two back, I mentioned some positive news I received from recent bloodwork and expressed my frustration with weight gain. Over the past two years, I have gained over 30 pounds. I’m just over 5 feet tall. That is a LOT. Each and every time I’ve gone to see my doctor I’ve brought this up. Each and every time I’ve seen her I’ve told her about my increase in physical activity, the care I take with my food intake, you name it. I even told her about training for and completing the Avon walk (39.2 miles in 2 days) last year.

We adjusted my thyroid meds – didn’t help. She said that chemo and radiation probably trashed my metabolism. In November I complained again. ‘Well let’s test for fasting glucose, you could be in danger of getting diabetes.’. So I let the vampires take my blood. The response? ‘Glucose levels are higher than target. Diet and exercise might help’. Excuse me? What the hell have I been doing all this time?

This week I had an appointment with my Oncologist and expressed my frustration with the situation. She disagreed with the chemo/radiation theory. Yes they did make me gain weight but I actually lost it all until 2 years ago. Five minutes into our conversation, she says ‘something’s not right’ and tells me I need to see an Endocrinologist. She’ll call my doctor and get the referral going. Cool, right?

Wrong. Long story short, when I got home that night I had a voice mail from my doctor. She wants to send me to a clinic that specifically treats Diabetes 2 patients and to put me on a medication to treat Diabetes. ‘But’ she says, ‘one of the side effects is that it helps you lose weight’! Whee! Isn’t that grand? She fucking wants to medicate me for a disease I don’t have. Shortly after that I got a call from my Oncologist, who’s very worried because when she tried to talk to my doctor about my problem, the doctor’s response was ‘she needs to exercise’ and when it was brought to her attention that I do, she answered, ‘maybe it’s her age’. The woman didn’t believe me when I told her what I was doing to improve my health.

Needless to say – I was seething. Didn’t sleep at all that night.

I placed a complaint against her with Stanford (Yeah. Stanford. NOT Kaiser, the one with the bad rep.) I have to say, they have good people working to help angry and frustrated customers. Two hours later, I got a phone call from my doctor. “Oh, I’m SO sorry!” “Half of Americans are overweight and most of them don’t do anything about it but I know you ARE the 1% exception.” “Oh no you don’t have Diabetes, I know that, we want to prevent that and you’re doing a great job working so hard!”

I thanked her for her apology.

And told her she was fired.

13 comments:

Margene said...

More people should fire their doctors. I've done it, too...it's the only way to let them know they've failed us. You're right to be your own advocate! It's the only way to go.

Cindy/Snid said...

Good for you- we should all be pushier with our doctors when they don't listen to us. Too many feel that they know all about you by reading charts and reports. Sorry- a human being does not fit onto a piece of paper- nope a ream won't do it either. Keep digging, you will find the answer. This is why we drove "over the hill" to Santa Cruz to see our doc. She listened to us, had 1 hour appointments, and was always open to alternatives. That is a hell of a lot easier to work with than someone who has an office down the street but doesn't listen...

Sorry for going on- this is my hot button too!!!!

Kathy in San Jose said...

Good for you! So many people take their doctor's words as gospel because "they're the experts and they know what they're talking about." You know yourself better than anyone else and when something doesn't feel right, you need to question what is happening. I tell my students all the time to "question everything, even what I say!"

My husband fired his doc because she wasn't listening to his concerns. It made a huge difference in how he felt about some of his medical issues.

PurlsBeyondPrice said...

I'm so proud of you! I am a firm believer in being an advocate for your own health and that means being informed and communicating clearly with your doctor. I'm so glad you're persistent in getting the care and respect that you deserve from your doctors.

Maia said...

Good move! She deserved to get reported and fired. I strongly believe in commending people when they provide excellent service and calling them out when they let you down.

I agree with Margene about being your own advocate.

AlisonH said...

I'm glad you had the satisfaction of having her have to actually finally listen to you as well as the satisfaction of telling her she was fired. I think she'll be a better doctor to the next person for the sting of that--not the easiest way to learn, but hey, she had earlier opportunities. More importantly, I hope you get a great endocrinologist who knows their stuff and listens well and does a good job for you.

BerkeleyBecca said...

Yes, good for you. Doctors should learn that they have to listen, and they don't know everything. I hope you find a good replacement.

Tiny Tyrant said...

You go girl.

Get your thyroid checked (endocrinologist is very good at that :-))

Also discuss the possibility of PCOS with the endo as well.

Danielle said...

Yay for you for being your own advocate. Frustrating, I'm sure. I hope you find some doctors who can serve you better.

Mrs.Q said...

Grrrrrr! I have SUCH a short supply of patience for doctots like that! I want to slap them while yelling "Excuse me, but even though you're the one with all the eddikayshun - I'm the one who LIVES in this body, full-time, and I KNOW when something's not right! Now shut the F--- up and listen to me!"

Whew. Bit of a rant there, sorry - I had a doctor once mis-diagnose a torn ligament - Nothing life-threatening, in the end, but if I'd listened to him, I'd have lost much of the use of my left arm. I followed my gut and got another opinon, thank goodness - but I also didn't raise a stink. I've always been a little disappointed in myself for not following through and reporting him. So it always warms my cockles (and reminds me to do better next time!) when someone else makes a fuss.

Here's hoping other patients of hers will reap the benefits!

Yay you!

Celia said...

Let me reiterate the sentiments mentioned above: Your doctor deserved to be fired for not listening to her patient. And you are very smart for being your own advocate. They are human beings just like the rest of us.

beentsy said...

Go you! I love it when people stand up for themselves, especially women.

renaissancewednesday said...

Good for you! It takes a lot of chutzpah to stand up for yourself like that. Too many doctors are so condescending these days and don't even give a crap about their patients. It's so important to stay informed and, as others have said, be your own advocate. My mom always makes fun of me when I go to the doctor - I'm the one asking all the questions, even though she's the parent. heh. But it's better to know what exactly other people are doing to your body.