To My GP,
No offence, I don’t like coming to see you. It means I’m not doing well, I’ve tried everything I can think of, and I’ve run out of options. It means I’ve ‘failed’ somewhere. When I do come to you it’s because I’m seriously stuck and I need your help to work out the problem, or I’ve got a vague theory and need a prescription. So I always come to see you feeling anxious and that there’s a lot riding on the 10 minute appointment.
You’ve openly said before that my condition is beyond you and that I have more knowledge than you in aspects of it. Which I quite liked- I prefer it to doctors fobbing me off or ‘pretending’ they know what’s going on. When I came to you the other day and explained my (relatively) new symptoms and what I’d done myself, you said that you couldn’t explain them and you didn’t know enough about endocrine disorders to help me. But you’d try.
In the past, your (and other GPs’) default answer has been ‘ask your endocrinologist/respiratory consultant/nurse specialist/immunologist/whoever-else-ending-in-ist’. The last time you said that, I explained how frustrating it is being a patient in a system where no one knows what to do with you and you get ‘bounced’ between people. And, because of the way the system works, it can sometimes take a long time to get close to even a very small improvement in often debilitating or painful symptoms. Which is really tiring. You clearly listened to me last time, because you didn’t say that this time. You said you’d refer me for more tests before considering a different consultant, and that by the time those tests had come back, I’d have also seen my endocrinologist, who could weigh in his opinion.
This is a bit more proactive and feels a bit less like I’m being made to cope by myself, like we’re working together. Not just me going backwards and forwards between doctors, potentially diluting the different opinions, but a bit more unified in approach.
I like how you don’t tell me I’m stupid with my ‘theories’. You say ‘it shouldn’t work like that’, you get confused and go on Google, but I feel like you go away and think about it rather than assuming it’s me doing something wrong, or, like some other Doctors have in the past, assuming I’m making it up. I admire that when you don’t understand something, you ask me- like when I explained the Day Curve and Synacthen tests to you. Or if you’re not sure, you email someone at the hospital who might know. I don’t mind people saying they don’t know but they’ll try to help, I just really hate being told I have to ‘get on with it’ as a way of getting rid of me, when I’m already at the end of what I can cope with.
I like that most times I see you, you reiterate that I’m dealing with a complex condition really well. I appreciate the fact that you take time to reassure me after I’ve had a bad experience at hospital and think I’ve made a mess of things, that it’s not my fault, it’s the system. It gets really hard, and when I do come to you, I’m at a point where I need that encouragement. I’m really grateful that you’ll authorise treatment/things I need for home use with minimal fuss, even if the relevant paperwork hasn’t got to the surgery yet, because you know I don’t have the energy to fight with people, and that you’re happy to fight on my behalf. It means a lot to me to know that you’re completely on my side. I’m also pretty sure you won’t just ‘leave me to it’, that you actually care about the quality of life I have, and you don’t want me to be ‘just another number in the system’. I come to appointments with you feeling anxious, but 9 times out of 10, I leave feeling much better and like I’m able to pick myself back up again and get ready for round 9601 of whatever comes next. Even if we didn’t actually get anywhere in the appointment.