I recently visited my doctor over concerns I had with some physical symptoms I had been experiencing. Of course, I looked up all my symptoms and they could have been a number of different things, but I decided that I wanted to be sure and rule out anything more serious that might be an underlying problem.
So there I sat on the exam table and he asked what brought me in today. I started to explain my symptoms, and without even letting me finish, he declared, “Stress. It’s Stress.”
I said, “Okay, I figured that but what about—“
“And then there’s—“
I was not able to finish my thought before the same diagnosis was spoken again and again and again, all before a stethoscope and not even a blood pressure reading.
He finally listened to my heart and said it was fine and that what I was feeling was mental and stress and then proceeded to fill out a script for an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication. Whoa. Anti-anxiety I get but antidepressant? NO. Neither script got filled.
I looked deep into his eyes and firmly told him I did not want to be medicated first without having him take a deeper look. He was nonplussed, looked me equally in the eye and told me to take these meds whether I wanted to or not and in the meantime he’ll look deeper. In other words, come back tomorrow for a blood test and (because my husband strongly suggested), a referral for a stress test. My symptoms may well be from stress, but I still wanted to rule out any additional medical cause that may be underlying.
I ended up having an EKG right then and the good news is my heart was fine. What stunned me though was the absolute lack of listening to the rest of my symptoms. I did not feel heard and to me, that is one the worst things a doctor can do to a patient.
I go to a doctor for guidance and evaluation on my physical well-being when my own health practices don’t seem to be enough. The last time I was even at the doctor for myself was last September for much needed medication for Bronchitis, so it’s not like I run to the office for every sneeze.
What bothers me so much about this particular visit is the dismissive nature of my feelings and physical complaints. Even if it is “just stress,” stress is a known deathtrap and constant elevated levels wreak havoc on every system in our body. To blindly treat symptoms with these two scripts without even a hint of planning to look deeper is just not fair to me as a patient.
I have seen the same type of dismissiveness with my mother’s doctors, my husband saw it with his father’s doctors, and I’ve heard others go through this so sadly, it is nothing new. I personally know many practitioners in the medical community and they agree that too many doctors are writing scripts to treat symptoms and don’t bother to look any further or deeper into other possible underlying issues causing these symptoms. I think what has saved me from a complete lack of faith in the medical community is the level of treatment my husband received from his oncologist and their staff. They were fantastic and a wonderful example of patient care.
I went to my doctor, trusting this member of the medical community for his knowledge and training and I suspected I might receive some sort of medication, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be a bitter pill.
Doctors need to take it deeper!