It’s time to get real about doctors and their treatment of their patients. As a patient we often view doctors as an authority. With their extensive training and eduction in medicine, this is normal. When we think of a doctor we think of someone kind, patient, intelligent, and ready to serve people, for a greater purpose. We expect, when we go to visit the doctor, their undivided attention, utmost compassion, concern for our well being, and the drive to do what ever it takes to help their patients. Often times what we get instead is a quick hello, poked and prodded, barely a glance, maybe an eye roll or two, a prescription and a fat bill on the way out.
Doctors are becoming more and more desensitized and programmed to disengage from their patients, never trust a word they say, provide the “IT” drug of the moment and assume it’s a cure all. I often wonder if they even listen to half of the symptoms I go in with when I have an appointment. How do they expect to help anyone, when they don’t listen? I just don’t understand… A friend of mine who is in med school told me and I quote “The first thing they teach us is to never trust your patients, because they are almost always holding something back or lying about something”. I do understand this. People have secrets, even from their doctors, and not being forthright can harm the patient, but the message here is all wrong. This isn’t telling doctors to be cautious, observant, and find methods to work with your patent to get the information you need. No… This tells them that as soon as they walk in the room, to not believe one thing they are saying, to not trust what your patients are feeling. What does this get a lot of patients? especially in the ER world? The classic phrase “Oh he/she is probably just a drug seeker”. What does this get patients with chronic illness? Years and years of doctors visits until they are provided with answers due to the mentality of not believing the patient. We are often told “well you seem fine now that you are in my office, until I have proof, there’s nothing I can do”. I’m calling it like it is, BULLSHIT! There is plenty they can do. They can collaborate with colleagues, dig up an old medical book, do research, do something! Hah! Out of the hundreds of doctors I have seen, only a handful have every truly made an effort to actually DIAGNOSE me, rather than provide me with a bunch of bullshit quick fixes and prescriptions that in most cases made me worse just to get me out of their office as soon as possible and bill me $500 for 2 minutes of their time and a complete waste of mine!
It’s an epidemic, and it’s getting worse. More and more doctors/specialists/surgeons you name it, are just mainstreaming their processes, adding more patients, spending less time, charging more, and solving nothing. What do they care if they collect their check at the end of the day and can tell everyone they’re a doctor right? No one questions them. They are at the top of the food chain. I am here to tell you this is wrong. They are not at the top of the food chain, nor are they god. They can be questioned and challenged and you can do something about it. It took me a long time to come to this realization after being mis treated and mis diagnosed on several occasions and I have zero patience for doctors who treat anyone this way.
One doctor in particular helped me to come to this realization, and quickly. This doctor I am convinced is the spawn of satan, and of course a doctor I still have to come face to face with frequently as he is my kidney specialists partner. Just my luck! His name is Doctor McDonald. There’s not much to him. He is an older doctor, probably in is late 60’s. Seems like an average guy until he interacts with you and you realize the second he speaks he doesn’t give two shits about anyone he meets. He is set in his ways, and has firm old school opinions on medicine, and patients. He has a very “grinch” essence to him, and a sour, hard face. He’s short for a man, thin, and overall looks unhappy. Before the big incident with Dr. McDonald the only interaction I had never had with him was on the phone. Both calls were extremely unpleasant. The first call was after hours. I was having severe pain and nausea from a kidney stone and I was out of my Zofran (aka Ondasterone). I cannot live without this medication, it is used to treat nausea. For me, specifically, I need it when stones are moving or when I am in pain in general as both cause nausea. When I was told Dr. Kim was not on call but they could have his partner call me, I thought at first I didn’t want to inconvenience the doctor, but I didn’t want to go to the ER for anti nausea pain either, so I said “ok” and they said he would call me within 5 minutes. When he called a rough voice said sternly “This is Dr. McDonald, I was paged?”. He sounded very impatient. I explained to him that I was a patient of Dr. Kim’s. “I have MSK, and am passing a stone, it is getting worse and the nausea has increased and I realized I am out of Zofran.” He immediately responded “Are you looking to get pain meds, because I cannot prescribe that without seeing you in the ER first”. I said “no, I just need the Zofran”. Then he said in a rude tone “Why didn’t you call the office several hours ago when we were open”. At that moment I actually felt guilty. Looking back I cannot believe I let him make me feel guilty for being sick and asking for meds! I also realize his statement was completely irrelevant and unnecessary and should have never been asked. I responded “Well, I don’t know, I wasn’t feeling as bad then, it’s only now gotten worse.” He asked for my pharmacy number and hung up. I was able to pick up the prescription 20 minutes later. I didn’t know much about the guy, but I knew enough then to know I did not like him.
The second time I interacted with Dr. McDonald was very similar, only this time I did need pain medication. Again I found myself having to deal with him because it was his weekend to be on call. I had another stone (of course) and had to call in after hours. This time it was much later. I had almost the same conversation with the doctor except this time he did not ask for my pharmacy number. He just flat out wouldn’t give me the meds. This is where the drug seeker mentality hurts the people that actually need the drugs… He told me I could go to the ER if I needed, otherwise I could call Dr. Kim in the morning because he didn’t know me and didn’t know my history. I explained to him that I had spoken with him before and I was a patient of Doctor Kims’. I told him I am a regular to the hospital with stones and I am trying to save my money and not have to go to the ER every time I have a freakin stone to pass. When you have had nearly 100 stones the last place you want to go is the ER trust me… It’s a total waste of time. He refused, and that was that. I suffered through the night until I could reach Dr. Kim first thing in the morning. He couldn’t believe it and called in the medication immediately. One day later I ended up in the hospital anyway and had a stent placed for a few days and was treated for infection. Thanks a lot Dr. McDonald for that one…Not getting me pain treatment only made me suffer through a night until I ended up getting worse..
The third and last time I ever interacted with Dr. McDonald was one for the books. I had been admitted to the hospital by Dr. Kim. My left kidney was in bad shape. I had tons of stones in the kidney, chronic pain, small infection and had passed a stone on the first day. Dr. Kim wanted to keep me in for several days to monitor, treat my pain levels, pump fluids to flush out as much as he could and give me antibiotics. I was not aware that he would not be the doctor treating me over the weekend. He came in to check on me Friday night. He said he wasn’t comfortable sending me home yet, as I still was not in good shape. He wanted to keep me through the weekend and re-evaluate Monday whether to place another stent and go up int he kidney and look around. He preferred to take a look in the kidney when he could as history went for me, the scans never clearly showed the severity of stones in the kidney. Without fail every time he has gone in, he says the kidney looks much worse than the scan shows it is…
That evening I was in bad shape, I was in a lot of pain, getting very sick, and emotionally drained. I was supposed to have my daughter that weekend, and she came to see me that Friday. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to visit up in the rooms, so I was wheeled downstairs to see her for a bit and get my big bella hugs that I love so much. As a mom with a chronic illness, it never gets easier to have your kids see you in this way. I know it’s hard on her, but I feel like it’s still hardest on the parent, to have your kids see you at your worst.
I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night. Between crappy late night television and crying in my hospital bed from the pain and loneliness of being in a cold hospital room for days I just couldn’t sleep. You never get used to those rooms. Even though my husband was with me and sleeping on his hundredth chair/recliner/bed, being in a secluded hospital room for days starts to get to you. People visit every now and then, but when you are there so often even those visitors stop after a while, each hospital stay you get less and less human interaction. It surprises me to this day that hospitals still haven’t found a way to make those rooms a little warmer or more homey. The only rooms you will see like that are in the maternity ward!
Needless to say Saturday I wasn’t feeling much better with the lack of sleep. My husband had to leave later that morning to teach lessons. He was on the phone with my mom, who was planning to come by and take a shift a few hours after he left. Those few hours is of course when Dr. McDonald was making his rounds to all his and Dr. Kim’s patients. I was completely caught off guard when he walked in the room. It was around lunch time which is not the usual time for doctor check ins to begin with. Typically they come first thing in the morning or later in the evening. I now know I prefer this, because there are better chances that I will not be alone. But I was alone, sick and caught off guard. I knew who he was when he walked in. I had seen his picture previously in the hospital. It didn’t do him justice. He looked like a much bigger douche in person. After the introduction he walked through everything I had already been walked through with Dr. Kim and then proceeded to tell me he disagreed completely with Dr. Kim. This threw me off. What did he mean? He proceeded to tell me that first of all Medullary Sponge Kidney disease does not cause pain, unless you are passing a stone (this a very much old school mentality of the disease, any doctor who has read up on the latest research will tell you this is false). He then said he looked at my scans and saw no issues. Yes he sees I have stones in my kidney but nothing is moving, therefore I am in no pain. Because of this he didn’t think I should be receiving pain medication. He then immediately accused me of being a drug seeker and abusing the hospital system. He said I needed to be taken off the medications and sent home immediately. I didn’t know what do to, and didn’t know what was happening and why he was doing this. I just started crying. I told him that MSK does cause chronic pain, and tried to explain to him but he wouldn’t have it. He got extremely argumentative with me after I responded to him which made me get even more defensive. I told him that obviously he hasn’t done his research on the disease because he was wrong and any doctor that truly knows MSK knows how it effects a person with pain, nausea, etc. I explained to him that I was part of a group of people around the world with MSK and they all have chronic pain too. I told him how can you truly believe stones sitting in your kidneys and tubes dilating etc. didn’t cause pain? At that moment, just when I thought things couldn’t’ get worse, he started yelling at me. My heart was racing. I just laid there shock. He said all those people in the MSK group must be drug seekers as well, he again accused me of drug seeking, said MSK doesn’t do anything but cause stones which are not that painful to begin with, this is his medical opinion and he was kicking me out of the hospital. I immediately responded, “Well, you’re not my doctor” as tears are streaming down my face. How else was I to react? I think my crying made him feel like he had defeated me. Congrats asshole, you made a sick woman bawl in her hospital bed! I thought to myself. He yelled back at me “Young lady, your doctor is not on call this weekend, I am your doctor now!!”. I didn’t know what else to do so I screamed back “GET OUT!! GET OUT OF MY ROOM!! GET OUT!!!” I got my mom on the phone immediately. When she picked up all she could hear was me frantically crying, I couldn’t catch my breath. When I was finally able to create words through my sobbing voice and shaking body I told her everything that had just happened. “I don’t know what to do mom, he’s sending me home, and I am still sick, what am I going to do, I can’t go home like this”. She calmed me down, told me she was on her way, and I knew that tone of voice. She was on a mission and someone was about to feel the wrath of Bonnie. Before my mom had even made it to my room for me to even know what was going on she had gotten a hold of the hospital manager. Complaints were filed against the doctor with the board. My parents chewed out the manager and anyone else they could for allowing the doctor to carry on this way with a patient, not to mention a defenseless patient alone in her room with no one else, not even a nurse to make him stop. This was more than unprofessional, this was an attack. Signs were put up outside my door by the hospital making all the staff aware that Dr. McDonald was not allowed within 50 feet of my room and no one would enter my room un-accompanied. The hospital leadership was constantly in my room checking on me, making sure I was ok, asking if they could do anything to help. It wasn’t until then I realized just how much the doctor had fucked up. Hours later Dr. Kim showed up. He wasn’t supposed to be on call that weekend but thanks to Dr. McDonalds actions he was kicked out from treating patients that weekend and Dr. Kim had to be called in on his weekend off. I felt bad for him, he’s such a good guy. I cannot imagine what it must be like to work for such an epic asshole and cover for him like this. He was extremely apologetic, in a manner that told me this was not a first for Dr. McDonald. Why do they let him get away with it? Why does he still partner with this guy? I have no clue! Dr. Kim from that day on gave me his personal cell phone number. He said going forward if you ever need to go the ER and I am not on call, you call my cell. I will be there. I found out several weeks later when I went back in for my post hospital check up with Dr. Kim, that Dr. McDonald was in the middle of a law suit with a patient of his and things the day before our incident had escalated negatively against him. This apparently set him off even more, and I was the lucky patient he took it out on. I hope who ever was sueing him got ever last dime. Frankly I don’t give a shit what he was going through, we all have bad days, but it is never an excuse to take it on others around you, not to mention a patient in the hospital.
Since this incident, I have only ever seen Dr. McDonald once in passing. It was everything I could do not to walk right up to him and punch him in the face. I wish I had the balls to do it, I really do. I fantasize about doing that every time I go to their office for a check up. I now always keep a letter on hand from a doctor who is well known in the MSK world as it is his specialty, explaining what MSK is, what it does, and how it needs to be treated. This has proven to be extremely useful when I go to the ER now, even though most ER doctors are just about the most useless doctors there are…
So, this is what it has come to. In order for me, a woman with a rare chronic illness, the kidney disease being just part of it, has to arm herself against doctors just to be treated properly. I have to have cell phone numbers of other doctors and letters and arm myself with as much knowledge as possible about my diseases to I can personally tell the doctors what to do and what not to do? They should be paying me! It’s unreal honestly, but it is the sad and scary truth of our medical system and those running it. You want to be treated? Diagnosed? Cured? Then get to work patients! Because you are your only advocate!
Want to be questioned, doubted, and made to feel worse than you already feel? Want to be mis treated? Go see a doctor.
-Just a Regular Sick Girl