The Time A Doctor Laughed At Me
I've been seeing doctors about my endometriosis for around 20 years now and, for the most part, they've all been reasonably OK. Some have listened more than others, some have held my hand when I've been upset... And then there's the one who laughed at me.
An unknown pain
Age 24, I had been living with endometriosis for 12 years (albeit only 3 years with the actual diagnosis). I was just beginning to understand my body and start listening to what it was telling me. I still didn't fully understand endometriosis and I had a lot of questions to ask every time I saw a medical professional.
My right shoulder had begun to hurt around this time. At first, I thought I had been sleeping in an odd position or had pulled it slightly on reaching for something. But the pain didn't go away. It (still now) makes my neck and my whole arm ache to the point where I don't want to use it. It is such a deep pain. I always liken it to toothache: where you dig your tongue in to your gum and it momentarily relieves the pain. It makes me feel sick.
A doctor's inappropriate response
Although the pain did show up here or there, I had started to notice it hurt at it's very worst when I was on my period. I decided to mention it to my GP when I next saw him. At that point, I didn't think it would have anything to do with my endometriosis, but it was a big coincidence that the pain seemed to be cyclical.
The response I received from my GP still astounds me. I explained everything I had been through, everything that was happening. He laughed at me. A doctor actually laughed in my face about something I was having a problem with! He said it "definitely wasn't related" and sent me home.
Trust your instincts
I wasn't happy. My problem hadn't been resolved and I had been made to feel like a silly little girl for mentioning it. I decided to pursue it though and ask my consultant at my next hospital appointment. Lo and behold, it was linked. Without any hesitation (or laughter!), he explained that pain in my shoulder could indicate diaphragmatic endometriosis. At my next surgery, this diagnosis was confirmed. I wasn't silly for questioning it.
Doctors are only human and we all make mistakes. Maybe he regretted responding in that manner. But I always wondered how many other young women he dismissed in the same way as he did me. How many of them decided to go by his word and live with the pain, never having any resolve? I don't expect doctors to know it all. When it comes to endometriosis, we are all learning new things every single day. But I do expect a little compassion and I do expect doctors to want to help me when I go to them with something that is causing problems in my every day life.
Do you make any endo preparations when you know you are attending a BBQ, party, or a day at the beach?