Does your doctor understand myalgic encephalomyelitis, or post-viral chronic fatigue syndrome? Have they helped you address the symptoms with treatments? Referred you to specialists to investigate abnormalities? Taken you seriously and helped you manage, or even improve?
These are the questions I’ve been asking myself since my last unsatisfactory visit to the doctor (general practitioner or GP). I left upset because I wanted help to understand why I haven’t been continuing to improve, but all I was hearing from him was “TAKE THE ANTI-DEPRESSANTS”. I told the doctor I’m not depressed, just upset and sick and tired of being ill for years. The last few times I went to the doctor I left feeling worse.
At this stage I feel compelled to say that mental health is important in management of any disease, particularly a chronic one. I have had help from psychologists, teaching me how to deal with pain and how to cope. The psychologist also found that I’m not clinically depressed.
Having anti-depressants foisted upon me made me feel like the doctor wasn’t taking my physical symptoms seriously.
So I asked around (well, in the way we ask now, online) and came up with very little. Either their patient lists were full, or I didn’t get a good vibe about them. I was looking for a straightforward GP who was perhaps open to alternative treatments (rather than someone who wants to sell me things).
Starting over with a doctor takes effort, explaining yourself and your history, having faith in them, energy, money…is it worth the effort?
My local doctor has all my medical records, is nearby and has helped me with treatments. But I’ve often taken my partner to appointments because I feel like the doctor takes me more seriously and the doctor listens more closely when my partner describes how my health has been and what he’s seen at home with me.
There isn’t a great deal that a GP can do to treat myalgic encephalomylelitis. In fact any time you get diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome it is almost like a licence to stop looking for anything. But I do need pain medication, thyroid checking, medical certificates for work (well, I used to) and other paperwork and occasionally I get illnesses like other people get that I need to see a GP about.
So in the course of writing this blog post, I’ve decided to stay with my local doctors’ office for the moment because I’m not sure I can do better. I’ll continue to take in scientific studies and ask for what treatments I want, because I know I need to be in control of my healthcare and not rely on medical professionals to manage it for me.
How is your doctor? Have you changed doctors?