Apparently the hottest Christmas gift for doctors this year was the “Please do not confuse your Google search with my medical degree” mug. I’d rather not count how many times I threw up a little in my mouth upon seeing it cross my Facebook news feed. Do I really have that many clueless MDs in my friends and friends-of-friends network?
I say to them: How dare you?
Twenty years. Twenty. Years.
Twenty years and probably a hundred doctors…and I can count three mainstream medical practitioners who have validated my very real and debilitating illness.
And that’s not to say they all gave me a Lyme diagnosis. On the contrary; the first one missed the acute Lyme infection in 1995, but to her credit she was persistent in searching for a cause of my symptoms. She finally diagnosed me with CMV-mono, which, if you’ve read The Razor, makes sense. I never pushed for any specific diagnosis. I presented my symptoms and let them do their job, like a good little patient.
The second one actually gave me a clinical diagnosis of Lyme in 2009. She was awesome. Shortly thereafter she disappeared back East under mysterious circumstances “to be near family.” (Then the practice dumped me with a new guy who ended up getting the boot after having an affair with his nurse. Oops. He was a jerk, anyway.)
The third is an immunologist who recently diagnosed me with an immune deficiency using the “accepted standard of care” (emphasis his) after I told him I have an immune deficiency. So he barely makes the list. He probably has the mug. Note to self: ask on next visit.
The point is, over 20 years and 100 doctors, only three, meh, 2-1/2 have been professional enough to do their job of practicing medicine. All the rest have offered either nothing or a dubious treatment option that would have been a Band-aid with potentially harmful side effects.
Like the dermatologist who figured I should bathe in steroid ointment for the “idiopathic” Rash from Hell, since even a punch biopsy could not determine an etiology. Or the one who clearly had just been wined and dined by the Stelara rep and thought that since I had a rash AND pain, he could benefit from my further immunosuppression. Or maybe it was the Caridee commercials that swayed him.
How many psych diagnoses? How many times have I heard, “Are you under more stress than usual? Patients like you tend to benefit from talking with an objective professional.” How many times have I heard, “Your labs are all normal. There is nothing else I can do.” How many?
And how many others like me have endured the same, or worse? Let’s see…the CDC admits to 300,000 Lyme cases per year (but due to the fraudulent case definition it’s really closer to 2 million), then you have all the ME/CFS sufferers, in the millions, and fibromyasshole (credit to M.A. on that stroke of brilliance), and the horribly sick Gulf War veterans, in the ultimate betrayal, and all the kids “on the spectrum” (1 in 45) who will need a lifetime of support. All shuttling from one clueless MD to another, with unexplainable, incurable, allegedly-imaginary diseases, running out of money and hope.
So many sick people, and so few doctors who actually give a shit.
They are too busy sharing their smiling selfies with “Please don’t confuse your Google search with my medical degree” mugs.
My advice to doctors: don’t be so smug. If your medical degree is worth something, why are there so many sick people who have been shamed or dismissed, or dumped into the psych bucket? You know–the “This Patient is Difficult and Time Consuming and I am Smart and I Have an Expensive Degree and Know Everything Therefore This Patient is Somatizing” bucket with a hole in the bottom. If your medical degree is so worthy of admiration, why do people feel like they need to turn to Google?
Did you get that expensive degree just so you could throw it in people’s faces? Or did you get it because healing people gave you a sense of fulfillment?
Did you get the medical degree so you could feel Superior and Powerful, or did you get it because you wanted to empower others with good health?
Did you get it to earn a big salary and buy a fancy house/car/vacations, or did you get it because you want to use your gifts to do good?
I want to know. Because maybe you spent several years and a pile of money on your fancy degree, but I spent 20 years being abused by doctor after doctor, missing out on opportunities to further my own career along the way. And ultimately the only things that got me a real diagnosis with a glimmer of hope for proper treatment were my own persistence, PubMed, and Google. Yes, Doctor Google.
And we were right–all those scientists were right–Lyme causes immunosuppression.
So yeah, you go ahead and abuse sick people, then laugh at them for having to do their own legwork. If you had any respect for your profession–your oath–you’d be doing the research. You’d ask yourself, “Self, why are there so many unexplained diseases that feature chronic fatigue, pain and cognitive dysfunction?” But since you don’t ask yourself, we are left to ask Dr. Google.
If the whole lot of you had any respect for your oath, you’d ask the question collectively and stand up to the powers that be–the ones who have been saying, “Move along. Nothing to see here.” You’d advocate for sick people instead of mocking them as you sip fancy coffee from your hilarious mugs.
I guess it’s more fun to feel important than to actually be important.