The 30 Day Chronic Illness Challenge consists of one brand new writing prompt each day.  All topics relate to chronic illness and/or living with a chronic illness.  The Challenge was created by @cfs_zombie and I learned about it through Tumblr.

Day 22: How do you feel you have been treated by the medical system?  Explain.

Overall, I think I’ve been treated really well by the medical system.  In previous blogs that I’ve written for the 30 Day Chronic Illness Challenge, I’ve mentioned that my parents believed I was faking my symptoms.  The medical system proved that I was, in fact, sick.

The doctors who treated me when I was 17 were incredibly helpful.  I got diagnosed with borderline anemia and (dozens of) allergies.  They listened to what I had to say about my symptoms, ran some tests, and based their diagnosis  (and suggestions about treatment) upon what the tests revealed.   They tried to educate my parents about my chronic illnesses – despite my parents’ continual insistence that I was fine and didn’t need medical care.

I fully realize that these doctors could have taken the easy way out and simply agreed with my parents’ assessment of my health.  The family practitioner that my mother (occasionally) took me to chose that route. That’s why it took until I was almost an adult to finally get diagnosed with my chronic illnesses.

When I look back at the way the medical system treated me, I get mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I am angry at the doctor my mother took us to when we were children who based my care upon my parents’ attitudes (instead of medical science).  I’m absolutely irate at my parents who intentionally chose to neglect my health.   Would I be (at least a little bit) healthier today if I had access to treatment when I was a child?

On the other hand, I’m incredibly grateful for the doctors who helped me when I was 17.  If it wasn’t for them, I might not even be here today.  They showed me that there actually are good doctors out there.  Previous to that, I assumed all doctors were as awful as the one my mother selected.  I had none to compare her with.

It is absolutely horrible to have a doctor decide that your symptoms are fake when they are very real.  My experience with the medical system has taught me how to find a good doctor.  This is what I look for:

* The doctor listens to what I am saying when I describe my symptoms.

* The doctor respects my decisions about the type of treatment I will receive and allows me to make choices (presuming that there is more than one type of treatment in existence).

* The doctor bases my treatment upon what tests show (and not upon whatever pharmaceutical company gave him some pens).

As an adult, I look for doctors who fit those criteria.  If I end up with a doctor that doesn’t listen to me, who choses to believe I’m faking my symptoms, and/or who won’t give me any say in my course of treatment – I find a new doctor.

As a result, I’ve been treated very well by the medical system. I have a great doctor who I see when I have a sinus infection or when I need a new prescription for my Epi-Pen.  There is an eye doctor at Sears Optical who is wonderful.  I have a dentist whose entire staff is kind and gentle.

I have an awesome acupuncturist who works with me to treat symptoms of allergies, hyperhidrosis, stress, and just about everything else.  The doctors I saw at Planned Parenthood took the time to answer all my questions about Implanon (my choice of birth control) and were compassionate while implanting it into my arm.

I have created a “team” of medical practitioners who I can go to for whatever I need.  Having access to doctors who are skilled, knowledgeable, compassionate, and willing to listen to me brings peace of mind.

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