Confronting The Doctor Who Belittled Me
2017 really came full circle for me.
About two months ago, I wrote a story about gaslighting by doctors. My diagnosis had finally been confirmed and I was ready to write about the painful experience that I went through during March or February of last year. To sum it up as quickly as possible, a doctor walking around (with a big ego) came into my room with a large group of students and told me no neurological condition could cause the way I walk, and made fun of me in front of them - laughter included. This was obviously a bit of a traumatizing situation since you're completely vulnerable when you're hospitalized.
In that article, I wrote that I wanted to confront him one day to let him know that the things he said weren't okay.
And on this day, things came full circle. I confronted the doctor who made me feel so small by turning my case into a joke. I'm still a little surprised at myself for having the guts to do this, but I did it. It took him a minute, but he remembered me. I told him that I was now properly diagnosed and being treated at the Neurological hospital. I told him that in the future, he probably shouldn't speak to a patient like that in front of a group of learning students, and how awful that experience was for me. He very briefly apologized and I felt like a weight was lifted. It felt like closure.
Later on in the day, I was shocked when I got a phone call and it was him on the other end. He said he was taken aback earlier and didn't get to say everything he wanted to say. First, he apologized for calling me on my cell phone. He continued on to say how sorry he was and how wrong his behaviour was. He told me he did me a complete disservice, and that he can’t imagine as a young woman in a hospital bed how much anxiety and stress he must have caused me. He went on to say that if I ever needed anything, not to hesitate to come to him.
So many thoughts went through my head... Sheer excitement. He got it. He understood what went wrong, and had no ego about it. I could feel the regret in his voice. I couldn’t believe he took the time to look up my chart, considering I’m not even a patient of his, and call me during his busy day. He was human. And I don’t know how he’ll remember this. I don’t know if he’ll forget about it, or if it will haunt him the rest of his career. But either way I have a feeling that a young woman with odd symptoms will never be treated like that by him again. And that makes confronting him all worth it. I admit that my main goal was closure, which I now have. I can forgive him and thanked him enormously for taking the time to call. But to know that maybe now in cases similar to mine he might think of me and be gentle, kind, and open-minded … that’s the part that makes me feel like it was all worth it.
If you have been mistreated by a doctor, you have a right to stand up for yourself. Doctors are only human, and we’re only human. They may feel intimidating, but they cry the same tears we do. They have little things that make them smile the same way we do. They have fears, the same way we do. So next time you feel intimidated by one, the next time they make you feel small, try and remember that you are just as worthy as them, and if you are treated badly, it’s okay to say stand up for yourself, even if it’s months and months later. It’s a good feeling.
Michelle was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 12. After being stuck in the nightmare of being a mystery for several years, she is now finally being treated for a rare neuromuscular disease called Stiff Person Syndrome. This blogger also lives with Dysautonomia, Endometriosis, and a few more, and loves raising awareness. Co-founding Chronic Love Club with Derek has been the highlight of her year, and she truly believes that we’re better when we stick together.