Are you serious? Are you kidding? It affects every part of my life and the lives of those around me.
Just like in a movie, let’s rewind a bit. To see where this all started that lead to this blog post.
I’m very lucky to have a FANTASTIC rheumy, she listens and appears generally concerned for my well-being. I’m pretty sure she knows who I am when she walks into the examination room. She runs her clinics in a teaching hospital so you get a range of medical trainees, med students, residents of all types, including rhemys-in-training. I’m all too familiar with the drill of an appointment in a teaching hospital after being pregnant with identical twins (all the newbies wanted to learn from me). The nurse comes in and preps you for your appointment, and then the medical trainee comes in. They do a thorough exam, asking many questions, poking and prodding. I just humour them with this practice appointment, after all they have to learn somehow, right? One thing about having an appointment with a specialist in an environment like this is that the appointments are long, never rushed, always lots of time to discuss things and make the right decision for you. I’m lucky that way.
At my most recent appointment I had a resident, not sure if her aspirations were to become a rheumatologist, I never asked. She did the usual exam, as if she had memorized the checklist she was given beforehand. (I have learned that sometimes they properly read your file before coming in, and other times not so much. Like the time I had resident at my prenatal appointment tell me the heartbeat sounded good, and I replied how about the other one? He had missed the twin part in the file).
She made notes and checked all my troublesome joints, asked for my questions and concerns. All very routine. We even discussed how my most recent course of drug treatment is not working. And then out of the blue she says “So RA doesn’t affect your life”. This was not a question but in fact a statement! I was shocked and speechless, my husband and I stared at each other completely in awe of what had just happened.
It doesn’t affect my life? It affects every part of my life and more! It is the reason I can’t get down on the floor to play with my kids, it’s the reason I struggle climbing stairs, the reason I hurt every day after doing basic life chores, the reason I can no longer do research, it’s the reason my husband has to pull double duty for all the things I can no longer do. It is the reason for so many things in my LIFE! I certainly hope that this was a rookie mistake. Didn't your mother ever teach you to say what you think in your head NOT OUTLOUD? WOW!
I regret not staying anything direct to her. But to be frank I was so much in shock that the words just weren’t there. Having a chronic illness is hard enough without a medical professional making you feel lazy and like a hypochondriac.
The resident left to discuss her findings with the attending (my doctor/rheumy). And eventually they both returned to my examination room. And in my opinion, this is when my real appointment starts anyway. At least my rheumy knows, yes it does affect my life, after all, if RA didn’t affect my life, I wouldn’t have so many appointments and take so many drugs just to try and get a bit of my life back.
It really does stress the importance of having a knowledgeable doctor that also has a good bedside manner. I am so thankful that my actual rheumy has those and many other good qualities. She is fantastic.