There’s a line in 27 Dresses that I really like. Kevin says, What about you? You don’t have any needs? Jane responds:
No. I’m Jesus.
In other words, his question is ridiculous. Well, I had a moment like that yesterday.
I was in Dr. Mark’s office. Not in the XXXXL room, but a regular-sized room. (Still with the elephant-sized gown though.) We were talking about all the pain I was in. And options: none of them were very good. And he asked me this:
Do you ever get frustrated that we never are able to help you?
I think I gave him this blank look like Did you just say what I think you said?
I try so hard to be the perfect patient. His nurse was complaining to me about how the other nurse got stuck with a schedule full of “time-consuming patients, to put it nicely.” I’m polite. I try to be reasonable. I try not to annoying. I try not to complain about things that aren’t the doctor’s fault. I try not to yell and scream and throw things at people just because I feel terrible.
But the reality is that I’m in a LOT of pain. And I very desperately want not to feel this miserable any more. And of course I feel frustrated when I pay people to help me and they don’t. Not because they don’t want to. But because they don’t know how.
What happened in Dr. Mark’s exam room?? Well, tears started streaming down my face. And I told him that it helps me a lot to talk to him about this stuff instead of lying in bed at home wondering if it’s serious.
It’s also so much better than the previous place where I lived where I kept getting kicked out of doctor’s offices. Nothing crushes your sense of worth like having the validity of your illness questioned over and over again by professionals who supposedly see “real” patients with “real” pain all the time.
But the reality of the matter is that no amount of looking on the bright side changes the fact that having a chronic illness really sucks. It’s hard and scary. When it happens to someone else, it’s easy to lose sight of it. But sometimes, the best thing you can do is to acknowledge it, to offer to experience it with the sufferer. That’s the mistake those other doctors made. They didn’t stop to think that disregarding the patient actually made things worse.