Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Doctors and Women

     I'm frustrated today. I have just spent almost a month trying to get a friend medical care. She keeps getting ignored and passed around like me and many other people in the country. She had some dizziness, and the doctors kept telling her it was nothing, and wouldn't even give her the usual prescriptions for dizziness. It got worse, she has a toddler and her step-son of 11 staying with her who wants to be entertained every minute. She would cook a bit, lay down, cook more, lay down. Then it got worse so that she was holding onto the wall every time she stood up. Then she was crawling on the floor. She went to the E.R. and they told her to talk to her family Dr. and get referred to a specialist. She called her Dr. who had seen her twice about this and said that the E.R. had found an inner ear problem and that he should give her a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist immediately. The Dr. called the ENT specialist, he was on vacation, so called her back and left a message on her answering machine that he was on vacation, then he just forgot about her! He ignored her as she tried to call him at work and home again and again for help. It seems like he was thinking that the illness would stop progressing until she sees a specialist in 2-6 months...I don't know what he could have been thinking. So today she is so dehydrated from the nausea of dizziness that she is passing out, going unconscious to even try to get to the bathroom. I told her to PLEASE go back to the E.R. and take her husband with her as an advocate. They went, took her into the hospital in a wheelchair, she was again sent home to see her family Dr. (In Canada you can't see a specialist without being referred by a family Dr.) The husband got mad and called the family Dr. and told him that he is "watching her get worse and worse daily, and no one is doing anything, are they just waiting for her to die? She could not even get treatment for dehydration! She needs to be in the hospital! " Immediately the Dr. said to go back to the hospital, he will admit her. A MAN said something to the Dr., and the Dr. finally listened! A woman can talk and beg until she dies and it seems no one will do anything, but if they have a husband or male to speak for them, something happens!  I'm glad she is getting into the hospital, but now I wonder how much help she will get with that family Dr. treating her in the hospital because he didn't know what to do and wasn't willing to give her dizziness medication earlier. Will she get it now? Will he even know what to do, or even care enough to research the problem and do something to help her survive until she can see the specialist?
Case #2
    When my Dad was alive and we were in the E.R., the Dr. delayed giving me my pain shot until I was in so much pain I was crying and shaking. It had been about 10 hours. He told me the x-ray showed nothing so I should go home. I told him lupus does not show up on an x-ray, and that I could not even sit up to get out of the E.R.  He asked how I got in there. I told him I was not in so much pain when I got there. he said he could not give me pain medicine if no tests showed anything.  My Dad sat quietly by me, sort of as  a witness in case I was treated badly. Finally my Dad spoke up and said "Why don't you just give her the pain medicine so we can get out of your way?" The Dr. said, "Oh, ok." A man spoke, the Dr. listened. No questions asked, and the pain medicine was brought!
     I remember stories of women not being taken as seriously as men up until the 1970s, but with the newer doctors, I thought that had mostly disappeared. I talk to people in other countries, and it is still very much that way, that men are taken more seriously than women. A man can complain of pain and immediately he will get more and stronger painkillers than a woman who has suffered longer and with more pain. That's a documented fact. I found it in the book called "How Doctors Think" by Jerome Groopman M.D.
Case #3:
     My brother's sister-in-law knew something was seriously wrong and went to a Dr. She lives on the other end of the country, so obviously it's a nation-wide problem in Canada. She was told it was nothing. She insisted there was something wrong and made an appointment with another Dr. He also said it's nothing. She made an appointment with a third Dr.  He also said it was nothing. Part of her thought she should listen to the Dr. because they know more than her and you are supposed to respect them and obey them, but she made an appointment with doctor #4. Keep in mind that to get an appointment with a Dr. takes weeks, so she was waiting many weeks between each appointment. In the USA often you can see the Dr. within days. Not here.  By this time her husband went with her because of her getting so much worse. The 4th Dr. listened to her, took tests, and told her that she was now terminal, incurable, inoperative, and that she should have gone to a Dr. a month ago and she would have been ok. She just lost control of her emotions.  More than a month before, she was still making appointments with doctors trying to get someone to listen to her! Because a man was with her this time and speaking for her,  she immediately got the tests! She has small children and now a whole family will be destroyed because of lack of compassion, lack of desire to diagnose a difficult problem, and no longer do doctors listen to all the symptoms to try to diagnose a disease. They listen to one or 2 symptoms then take blood tests, and go completely on test results, and if the test results don't show the disease they were thinking of, instead of looking for another disease, they tell the patient they are fine and send them home to suffer.
Case #4. Me again. I have a heart problem that has been completely ignored, that one day the heart specialist told me he was very concerned, then 3 days later said he must have made a mistake and the tests must have been mistakes, and sent me home to suffer.  When I went to my family Dr. he read me the report from that specialist, which told about my heart problem but the specialist said he doesn't know what causes it or what to do about it, so instead of helping me find someone who WOULD know, or researching my heart problem, he just said he must have made a mistake, and sent me home to suffer.  Yesterday I asked a new internet friend who is a Dr. what would cause this certain abnormality on the heart test. He said it was quite serious, and that if a MAN came to him with that problem, he would give him a pacemaker immediately. I said "A man? Why not  a woman?" He said that it was true, but unfair that with heart disease, men and women are treated completely differently.  He said women with heart complaints more often get told it is just stress and to change their lifestyle. Men get treatment.
My mom is upstairs suffering, waiting, because no Dr. is willing to think about any case that is a bit difficult. 
My life is on hold, my anxiety raising as I wonder if I will even be well enough to be a wife when my husband gets home, or if I will even be alive. I have at least 4 online friends who have all told me the same thing this month, that they are being ignored and sent home to suffer alone.
    Maybe if my husband were here, if he would speak to the Dr. as my advocate and as my mom's advocate, we would get some results.
    It's the same story with an auto mechanic. they barely ever talk to women, if they do, they think we know nothing and take advantage of us. A Dr. is just a
mechanic of the body instead of  vehicles, and they no longer have the compassion or patience to listen and to investigate something chronic or unusual...unless a man speaks up for us.
   I don't have any answers. I don't think it will get better. We are blessed indeed if we find a compassionate Dr who will give us more than 5 minutes, will listen and will really try to find the problem and the remedy. It just adds to my frustration of suffering, laying here in pain and going unconscious and no strength, not alive but not dead. It adds to the stress and pain knowing that no matter how much pain I get in, or how close to death I become, I won't get any treatment. They have stopped treating me for over a year now except for my pain meds which I'm grateful for but would rather have a remedy! I am jealous of everyone who is fully alive, and of everyone who got to pass on to the next world. According to my beliefs, even if I passed away, I would be living fully and joyfully in spirit in the next world, so my desire is to LIVE and to live fully, and if I can get treatment here to make that happen, great. If I pass away and can live fully in the spirit world, fine...but this limbo world of not functioning and no human contact is inhuman. If I could get feeling better, then I would live life with more passion than most people have.
    I am very grateful for the many blessings I have, and I enjoy the small pleasures in life, because those are the only pleasures we have, and I know life could be so much worse. Gratefulness is a big part of my relationship with God, and that's what keeps me from being as miserable I could be without the Lord in my life. I have far to go to learn complete trust and peace...but I will keep practicing and learning in that area.
I just had to make people aware of the facts that women are not treated as often or as aggressively as men are, and that there are MANY people suffering at home WAITING for help, either waiting for more appointments, or just being told there's nothing to be done, go home and live or die with it. For those people who believe "That person must be faking, and if they were really THAT sick, they would be in the hospital or on some medicine or they would be dying"...that is not the case at all.
    I called a church lady this morning for this friend who was put in the hospital today. It was before we could get any help for her. The lady I called is in charge of service projects for those in the church who really need help with meals etc. because of illness or accidents etc. and she had an opinion that surprised me, but also taught me what most people must think of me and my mother, so that is why we are avoided like we have the plague. She said "If that lady was REALLY that sick, she'd be in the hospital." I said "that's not true, if the doctors are not listening and are not looking for the cause of her problem." Then she said "There is medicine for everything these days. If the doctor thought she needed medicine, she'd get it." I just told her there is not medicine for every illness, there are not even tests for every illness, they have not even discovered every illness yet...then I said my goodbyes, because the woman in charge of compassionate service was so indifferent, so my friend couldn't even get help from the part of the church that was in charge of helping members who really need help. Why was I surprised? Mom and Dad and I lived in this house,  for 11 years and can not get one person to visit or call or help. Mom and Dad helped build this church for 50 years, and we still call and check on members and consider them to be friends, but we never get a call or visit in return.  
    My friend felt so hopeless and like we don't even live in a civilized country. She is from Chile, where they are all poverty stricken, but still the hospital would help if she went there in her country, and the neighbors all chip in and help each other!  She is now in Canada. Immigrants here say that the biggest adjustment is the loneliness. People here don't have time to socialize like people do in most other countries.
   My friend thought she'd have something done within a week. I knew just how my friend felt, and told her that even though she told her doctor she wants something done this week, she probably would not get it. NOTHING in Canada health care happens in a week. I can be in acute pain, and it will take 1 week to get to see a Dr. for it. My family Dr. BEGGED the heart specialist to put me in the hospital THAT DAY that he saw me, but it took 6 weeks to get an appointment with him and he would not treat me before that appointment, then it took 2 months of testing after that. They just don't care how long you have to go home and suffer and that you could possibly die while waiting. This is why I think we need to take responsibility for our own health, not treat doctors as all-knowing Gods, and to seek out help in all areas. If that means more doctors, or natural remedies, look for it. I know also that your finances might stop you from getting further treatment. That's where I am...but still I can study and learn more and choose which test or treatment I think I could seek out if money did come available. 
    It's so frustrating. Women are the heart of civilization, yet we get a lower standard of care! If the health of a nation fails, the nation will fail.
    Again, here is the link of countries that have the best care in the world, down to the worst care. I daydream a LOT about getting to another country to get some help. http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html


this is indeed an eye opener. my friend who stays in canada used to tell me their health care is one of the best and the doctors are caring, to the point that you'd get a personal call to check if you have taken your medicines. anyway, i was told that twenty years ago.
i wish you well nevertheless and that you'll eventually get the help you need.

Yes, 20 years ago the health care was a different world in both Canada and USA. I'd like to find that friend's doctor and hire him for myself! I have a dentist who is kind like that. I went to your website and saw the "CELLE" post. WOW! To think they found stem-cells in menstrual blood! Did you know they are working on curing lupus with stem-cells? So we women really COULD heal others!
I really love your blog and your courage. I am always so afraid of offending someone, but after reading your blog, you're right! This is my blog, and I can write my opinion. I live in a country with free speech and freedom of the press. I've been kicked out of a couple of groups for being too opinionated, but here I can have all the opinions I want! Thanks for just being you, Misti!

lol sweet bluebirdy! you're so spunky!
i live in a country that does not quite like free speech and there is not much freedom of the press either. but i guess the health care makes up for it, eh? haha.
can't have everything can we!

i do hope science will come up with some hope for lupus sufferers soon. i think they have been researching for years now, and i should think they should have some 'idea' by now. if only they'll stop sending people to the moon and start concentrating on the problems on planet earth instead. :P

Misti, that is so funny that you used the word "Spunky"! Look at the title of my new blog!

LOL!! talk about coincidences!

Salaams Bluebirdy,
I read your post and found it heartbreaking, how can you qualify to be a doctor and then disregard people's pain and distress like that?

But you are right. That's why I always send my husband to the doctor/dentist if the kids need to see him, they come back with better/more medicines and a more thorough check.

BTW, I wonder if you would be interested in another blog called My Private Casbah at http://bintalshamsa.blogspot.com/ This blog is by a lady also suffering from lupus and her "spunk" in the face of it inspired me to blog, to be grateful for all I have and to call my blog "Happy" Muslim Mama.

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