That is the question…..

Author note: I wrote this week’s blog knowing full well that, most of the time, we get the doctors we get. No choices, no chances to seek out competent and kind practitioners. I have encountered both ends of the spectrum. Here’s hoping we do find the good ones, because we DESERVE to. There’s nothing wrong with knowing our worth as human beings and hoping others see it too. ❤️

I’ve made many comments to and asked questions of my pain management doc over the years. He’s gotten used to my weird descriptions (I think) and been willing to mull over medications, procedures, pretty much everything with me.

But, last fall, when he was referring me to a colleague for a visit, I think I truly stumped him.

He’d just finished explaining the why/the who/the where and how valuable this other doctor could be. He was typing as he spoke, filling in my chart. That’s when I asked, “is he nice?” To be honest, I’m not sure what made me do it. He stopped typing, looked over at me with a very serious expression and said, “well….. I’ve never really thought about it.” So, with a small laugh, I asked, “well, if you had to think about it, would you say he’s nice? Or not so much?”

In all of the years that I’ve been dealing with health issues, I have NEVER asked anyone this question. E v e r. I’ve just gone where I was sent, seen who I was sent to see. And some of those practitioners left a LOT to be desired, trust me. I’d never have had the nerve to ask about niceness or kindness. But, at this juncture of my life, I genuinely want to know what I might be facing. Would it have changed my mind about going? No. But at least I’d have an idea about the person. It would give me some advantage.

Anyway, he sat and thought about it for a couple of seconds and said, “Yes…. I think he seems nice.” Then he started to really laugh. “No one has ever asked me if any of my colleagues are nice before. Leave it to you to be the one.” 😂

As instructed, I made the appointment. It wasn’t scheduled for months though, so I put it out of my mind. Then I got a call on a Wednesday to come in the next day.

My gal accompanied me to the city. When I was called in, I asked her to come in with me. It’s something I’d never have done when she was younger, essentially making it a full-time job trying to hide everything from her. But she’s an excellent second pair of ears to back up my memory.

The doctor came in and, before he’d even said a word, I knew he’d be okay. His big smile and rainbow socks said it all. It went well.

The next time I saw my doc, I told him about my visit with his colleague. And said that he can -should anyone ever ask again-say that his colleague is very nice. ☺️

Why does it matter? If you asked any person with CRPS, like myself, if they’d experienced terrible visits with rude/uncaring/downright mean doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, etc, guaranteed they’d say 100% YES. A thousand times, yes. And it wears a person down.

When you’ve been told that you’re a liar, that there’s no way anyone could be in the kind of pain you’re saying you’re in…. let me tell you, it’s brutal. I’ve been called – to my face – a liar, lazy, a freak. When the person you’ve come to for help clearly doesn’t care, it’s awful. There have been times over the years where I’ve even questioned my sanity. Maybe I’m not as bad off as I thought? Maybe the pain isn’t bad? I was lost. One doctor told me that he thought that I was a “nurse who wants to get out of hard work.” If he only knew how long I’d waited to get the spot on a mother-baby unit. Ignorant, judgmental fool.

That’s the routine song for so many people living with chronic illnesses. Especially chronic pain. And especially if you “don’t look sick.” If you look healthy. I was 25 when I was diagnosed with lupus. And 30 when CRPS stole my nursing career out from under me.

Forgive me if I want to know how nice a person is. No one is laying a hand on me until I get a sense of how they work with patients. If someone roughly handles my arms or my hands, it can ignite a fire flare in those places that could take a long time to calm down.

Niceness matters in medicine, as much as it matters in every other part of life. There are those who’d disagree – saying that as long as someone is qualified, their bedside manner is irrelevant. They’ve never been handled and grabbed right into weeks-long flare. So I take their opinion with a grain of salt.

My doc and I had a good laugh over the randomness of my question. But even he agreed that it does matter. We have a great rapport. After my original doctor left, my current doc took over and I’ve been his patient ever since. I’d have been in a reeeeally bad spot if he wasn’t as nice as he is.

Obviously a doctor’s experience matters.

Being nice does too. 😉

Wishing you safety and health as we navigate these days at home. Please stay home if you’re able. You will be saving the lives of very vulnerable people.

Peace and painlessness,

Beck ❤️

#thisiswhatsicklookslike #crps #rsd #arachnoiditis

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