don’t make me feel unimportant


Viola Sado

I am not one of those people who sees my GP regularly. I’ll usually wait until whatever is happening gets to a point where it’s absolutely unbearable. So, when it comes to making appointments I expect a certain level of care. Lately though, I’m starting to worry that I’m not getting what I need. I feel unimportant.

About two years ago, I started to develop a rash. I have extremely dry skin, especially in the winter, and really thought nothing of it but last July, after over a year and a bit of nothing working to clear it up, I decided to mention it to my doctor.

As soon as he looked at it his eyes got really big. He didn’t have that look of confidence that I expect from a doctor. One minute, we’re talking about something which I thought was fairly straightforward and needed something stronger than what I could purchase at the drug store when from out of left field he starts talking about the big C.

I hope it’s just excema or dermatitis but all of the symptoms are the same as Paget’s Disease (breast cancer). Don’t panic though, we’ll try this prescription. It if works, we’re laughing, but if it doesn’t come back.’

So, I spent the next couple of days and weeks trying not to panic. I was sure it was fine and it wasn’t cancer whatsoever. One day, I did the worst thing I could have–I Googled Paget’s Disease. I don’t like to offer words of advice often but if I was to do so, the only thing I would like to say is that you should never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever Google things. It will send you down a path where you are absolutely certain you should start planning your funeral.

Afterwards, I got angry. Part of me was thinking my doctor should have just tried the prescription without dropping that extra little bomb and then we could’ve worked from there. But he didn’t and I had to live with that potential diagnosis hanging over my head.

Fast forward almost three months to October. I figured enough time had passed to give it a go with the prescription but absolutely nothing about that stupid rash had changed. So I made another appointment. I don’t think he was very happy with the length of time I waited but in my defense he didn’t say how long to wait either. He checked it, got that horrible look on his face again and then decided to refer me to a specialist.

I have no idea what is going on so I’m going to refer you to someone else. Now don’t panic if you don’t hear from them for a while because the wait list is usually a couple of months. In the meantime, try this new prescription. If the rash goes away before you see the specialist come back and if not, well, just be patient.’

My internal dialogue then went into immediate overdrive, ‘Be patient? Are you fucking kidding me? Okay then. I’ll just sit here and be patient for the next little while waiting to see somebody who can tell me what in the hell is, or isn’t, going on. You can’t do that to people. You can’t sit there with a horrible look on your face, talking about cancer and tell someone to be patient about it all. Who fucking says that?’ 

I really must work on my internal dialogue becoming an external dialogue (minus a few swear words of course).

Now fast forward to three days ago–about two years since I first noticed the rash and 6 months since I first saw my doctor about it. I had made an appointment with him for a completely unrelated reason, but since I was there I thought I’d mention the rash again. I told him I still hadn’t heard from the specialist and that stupid prescription (which burns the living shit out of my skin) reduces the rash a little bit but then it just comes back again. I wanted him to do something or at least reassure me that nothing was wrong.

He gave me nothing. No reassurance. No timeline. Absolutely nothing except ‘keep using the prescription until you hear back from the specialist. If it gets worse, come back and I’ll do a biopsy.’

Okay, maybe I am being a little crazy about the whole thing but I would have thought he would have ordered the biopsy now instead of waiting another couple of months for everything to just go downhill. But that’s just me. He’s the doctor. He’s the one who should know what to do I would think. Somehow, I think he’s thinking more about his upcoming vacation than my immediate issue.

I don’t care about the possibility of losing a breast (or both) to cancer–that doesn’t bother me (at least right now it doesn’t). Truthfully, I’ve always found them to be a total pain in the ass especially when it comes to playing sports and they are absolutely the worst things on a hot summer day. So that part of it seems to be okay—being faced with it head-on may bring another reaction, but that’s where I am with it now–it’s just a boob, right?

It’s the unknown that bothers me. It’s the waiting. It’s him seeming to care one minute while I’m in his office and then just letting all of it slide the moment I leave. Him walking out the door while I’m still trying to talk about it.

The wait list to get a new doctor in Northern Ontario is usually a couple of years, so I try really hard to be understanding and I don’t abuse the system. In my entire life I’ve only been in the hospital four times (when I was born, twice to my kids and when I had surgery on my shoulder). I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used the emergency department.

I feel angry. I feel ignored and unimportant. I’m not a group of numbers and letters on a piece of plastic. I’m not some fucking green and white OHIP card.

I know he’s busy, probably close to retiring and has more patients than he wants to deal with but would giving one extra minute of his time while I’m trying to deal with a potential life or death diagnosis be too much to ask?

4 thoughts on “don’t make me feel unimportant

  1. Pingback: Anxiety sucks | This Takes Courage

  2. Pingback: methinks I might need a new doctor | This Takes Courage

  3. Pingback: feeling yuck… | This Takes Courage

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