7 Signs of a Bad Doctor

7 Signs of a Bad Doctor

I’m sharing personal anecdotes along with these 7 signs of a bad doctor for a few reasons:

First, I want you to know that if you’ve got a crummy doc, you’re not alone. So many people can relate. (The hashtag #DoctorsAreDickheads existed on Twitter for a reason!)

Second, it might help you see warning signs in your own care. Maybe you just don’t like your doctor; maybe your doctor is genuinely terrible.

Remember: doctors, like anyone else, are not good just because they chose a profession of prestige and authority. They still have to be competent at what they do—just like the rest of us.

So what are the signs of a bad doctor?

7 Signs of a Bad Doctor

1. Your Doctor Doesn’t Listen

The worst doctor I ever had—The Rheumatologist from Hellâ„¢—would barely make eye contact with me. He was always scribbling something in my chart, unengaged and uttering only the perfunctory mm-hmm. At a time when I felt afraid and unsure, this was definitely not helpful.

I let his board know it, too. (Please report bad doctors whose actions cause you actual harm.)

Was he a terrible diagnostician or just bad at relating to me? Either way, I paid a significant price as a chronic pain patient, and I wonder now how many others did too. It’s a big deal and harmful—sometimes life-threatening—to be ignored. Ask me how I know.

2. Your Doctor Blames You

There were only so many times I could be told that diet and exercise were my problem before I realized the doctor was making my problem worse by taking the easy out.

As it turns out, all these years later, I’ve still never read a single article confirming that I wouldn’t have brain cancer if I’d just managed to lose 15 pounds. It’s bullshit, but it was fed to me repeatedly.

Sometimes the doctor’s admonition is what it is—fear of fat. Sometimes the extra weight is a result of disability and immobility. Sometimes food is the only scrap of comfort available precisely because no one will listen.

Me, bloated and fat from the dexamethasone, on the last day of radiation for my brain tumor. I am surrounded by my family.

The why doesn’t change this truth:

A failure to see any other possibility or acknowledge an inability to diagnose your condition in spite of an “unideal” weight is a red flag. No one knows everything, and any doctor who can’t accept their imperfection is doing patients a huge disservice.

3. Your Doctor Makes You Feel Rushed

The worst doctors I’ve had made me feel like they had somewhere else—maybe even somewhere better—to be. 

It hasn’t happened to me a lot, mostly because I’ve been waiting so long in uncomfortable chairs that I’m the one who wants out of there, fast. But when it happens, it’s not subtle. It distracts me from outlining my numerous symptoms, which I have a hard time recounting due to health-related anxieties.

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4. Your Doctor Doesn’t Ask Follow-up Questions

While I’m relaying my symptoms, I expect my doctor to ask clarifying questions. If I could diagnose myself and knew exactly what was important to share, I would probably just ask for the right tests from the start and save myself a lot of money and a lot of heartache, right?

If I say something like “this hurts” and my doctor wants to know the whens and hows of the pain, I feel much more confident that vital information is being considered. And who doesn’t want a shorter trip to diagnosis because all the facts are being considered, not just the easy ones?

Me and my husband, Dan, celebrating his birthday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

5.  Your Doctor Takes It Personally When Medications and Treatments Fail

I write a lot about The Rheumatologist from Hellâ„¢, but it’s because he so effortlessly did so much emotional damage that I have to work to undo all these years later. Present me wants to scream, “This isn’t about you! Don’t bill me for this crap!”

When Cymbalta (duloxetine) didn’t make me feel better, my old rheumatologist didn’t pivot or refer me to someone he thought might be able to help, he doubled down. He told me I’d hurt more if I didn’t take what he prescribed, and essentially blamed me for non-compliance before I was non-compliant.

6. Your Doctor is Cold

Sometimes doctors are emotionally cold and you leave feeling less than human. These are bad doctors, no question about it. 

There is a certain level of detachment that’s completely appropriate, but if you walk away feeling less than or othered, it’s not you. More than anything I want you to know it’s not you.

7. Your Doctor has Bad Patient Reviews

A bad review isn’t necessarily a reason not to see a doctor. We all know a lot of complicated factors determine which offices we end up visiting.

Doctors and patients can have bad days, and patients might be more likely to leave complaints on review sites when that happens. We have the capacity to see reason as patients.

But if you find a lot of reviews addressing the same problems repeatedly, that’s a sign you’ve got a bad doctor. When I feel like I don’t have a choice but to see a physician with a lot of negative feedback, at least I know what I’m walking into. There’s some solace in that.

Reporting a bad doctor for me is a moral imperative. But it’s equally important to share my good experiences too. It takes me only a few minutes to let other patients know what they can expect.

Pro Tip: for reviews, search for your provider on websites like Healthgrades and Vitals.

Share You Experiences with Bad Doctors in the Comments

Those are my own personal 7 signs of a bad doctor. I’ve probably missed some helpful stuff though. Let us all know what warnings you would add to the list by leaving a comment.

PS: if you’re stuck with a bad doctor and trying to make the best of a bad situation, maybe this article will help: How to Get Your Doctor to Listen

PPS: If you need help relaxing because your doctor is lousy, try making weed butter or learning how to Zentangle! (Wink, wink.)

Enough

Enough

When I was rolling around “enough” in my mind, the word association thing happened. And I remembered that Jennifer Lopez movie of the same title that my ex-husband didn’t like much. It made him visibly nervous.

Y’all. I’m a pacifist. It’s not funny that violence made “Rodney” uneasy. It’s funny he thought me capable of it. It’s sad he thought I thought he deserved it.

Full disclosure, I did once tell him while he was cheating that I wanted to push him down the stairs. But that threat was more real in his mind than mine. And when I realized he was clearly taking it all more seriously than intended, it seemed like a good time for me to choose my words more carefully.

Anyway, what I’m really here to say is that yesterday I looked at the screenshot of my hospital receipt several times, and I realized almost immediately that having enough money to pay medical bills is more than a relief; it’s empowering.

Part of my struggle with brain cancer isn’t the cancer at all. It’s this bullshit insurance system we have in the States. There’s a part of a person that absorbs the natural consequence of for-profit healthcare: people who don’t have enough money feel unworthy.

Forget fighting insurance companies for a minute. We fight ourselves because of the messages we internalize from BlueCross and Aetna and Humana.

What do you mean some of us can’t have life-affirming treatment because it doesn’t make some rich person richer? Sure, we can formally appeal the premise, but we have to do so inadequately treated. 

Man, that is so fucked up. 

Like J Lo, I think I’ve had enough. So as an act of resistance, I hope you have enough of whatever it is you need.

For Peace

For Peace

If you haven’t heard of Aaron Bushnell by now, please know that even the blurred video is disturbing. Google with caution.

I’m having a hard time reconciling US political rhetoric about the preciousness of life with the willingness of some to dismiss what’s happening in Gaza. 

And by “hard time,” I mean I can’t contort my brain—which is exceptionally good at rationalizing when it wants to be—into imagining a scenario where a single, non-fascist human being can hold both thoughts at the same time without necessarily imploding.

Yeah, I witness cognitive dissonance all the time. But living in a world where a group of overlapping people can condone the genocide of a people’s children while also giving preference to embryos, calling some children filth, and trying desperately to deny other kids food?

What strikes me about Airman Aaron Bushnell is the singular sense of purpose he had, a desire for the peace and freedom of the people he saw being oppressed.

But even NPR reported yesterday a bizarre recounting of the haunting news, suggesting they couldn’t be sure what Bushnell was on about, exactly.

NPR reported Sunday: “The Israeli embassy in DC said none of its staff were injured.”  And “The Metropolitan Police department has since declared [Bushnell’s] vehicle of any suspicious activity.”

The article has been updated since I first read it, but I still don’t understand what they’re hedging for without putting on some very cynically filtered shades. They added, “As of Monday morning, NPR was not able to independently verify the man’s motives.”

What?

There are Bushnell’s statements, social media posts. Graphic video that he streamed to Twitch.

Particularly harrowing and authenticating is how a cop pointed a gun at Bushnell while an EMT yelled that he needed more fire extinguishers, not guns.

The entirety of the internet knew exactly what happened within minutes.

I don’t have well composed thoughts about self-immolation as a form of protest and frankly my mind might not even be capable. But a Facebook post I saw attributed to the airman reiterates a common refrain:

“Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’ The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”

I am sorry Aaron Bushnell won’t get to see the peace he sacrificed himself for.

Kiss My Astrocytoma

Kiss My Astrocytoma

I had a phone visit with my palliative care PRN this morning. Long story short I’m going to take a short course of prednisone during CZT training to make sure I can do the thing. Because it’s only a week’s worth of generic ‘roids at a low dose, my Rx only costs about $4.

Which brings me to the whole “Medicare can negotiate drug prices” part of the Inflation Reduction Act. I’ve read in a few places that it will benefit seniors specifically, but I’m not sure if disabled people on Medicare are just casually being erased from the headlines again, or if I’m still extra screwed. I’m trying to find an answer.

This is just one reason why I’m still engaged politically when I should be “focusing on getting better.” My shingles vaccines, which I’ve mentioned before, cost $200 EACH, for example, and I’m not allowed to make enough money for our household to survive or they’ll cut my disability income completely and we’ll have even less than not enough.

Maybe if the “safety net” wasn’t an all or nothing proposition?

Bottom line, if anyone out there wants me to shut up about it already (and, yes, people do sometimes say it out loud) they can kiss my astrocytoma.

I’m relieved it’s only $4 for this prescription. The antibiotic ointment my oncologist prescribed a couple of weeks ago cost $35. Not exactly in the budget, and I prefer to put my creativity into Zentangling—not wondering how to afford medicine.

I know these posts aren’t fun for people to read. They are much less fun to write. But no one is going to do it for me. This is as boot-strappy as it gets for the girl who grew up in the most polluted county in Indiana. (In case someone tries to blame my cellphone usage for my brain cancer again instead of spending equal time wondering if our environmental regulations are too lax.)

I know, I know. Blaming me is so much easier.

Whatsoever a Country Soweth

Whatsoever a Country Soweth

“For whatsoever a country soweth, that shall it also reap.” —Emily Suess, paraphrasing Galations 6:7 and lifting it out of context to make a rhetorical point

Last night someone on CounterSocial said we should do our best to write about the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago without being sardonic or sarcastic so that posterity might know how people felt about current events long after said events are no longer current.

Damn that’s a really big ask—to edit the snark I mean—but I do think there’s value in the exercise. So here goes nothing.

I was in bed watching some art videos on gesture and composition when Dan came into the room to tell me that the FBI executed a warrant and Trump was shitting proverbial bricks while crying about his safe.

Members of the GOP judiciary were wondering what the world had come to if warrants could be issued to search the homes of old, white men.

And Marjorie Taylor Green was confessing nothing would get her to stop calling the people sporting antisemitic sweatshirts and literally killing people and smearing poop on the walls of the Capitol on January 6th—all in the hopes of installing the literal loser of an election—Antifa.

“Really?” I cackled, somewhat inappropriately. “That’s awesome.”

A while later, my sister-in-law texted to see if we’d heard the news. We had a good laugh at Trump’s expense, and then I wondered aloud what kind of dirt Trump had on people for them to still be defending and financially supporting a man who, as one internet stranger so eloquently put it, “commits a felony as frequently as he takes a shit.”

These sentiments might seem to be steeped in overt, politically motivated schadenfreude. Especially when taken in light of my conservative contemporaries’ proclivity for projection. But I assure anyone reading this long after I’m dead that I only see Democrats as beacons when compared to the moral debauchery of the Trump Crime Syndicate, more colloquially known as the modern GOP.

If you need to juxtapose me with my historical context for clearer understanding, dear scholars of the future, know I loathe the two-party system. Know I loathe the Electoral College. Know I loathe the false binary of everything, but especially political discourse. But also know I do not loathe Democrats and Republicans equally.

Republicans wanted Trump after all.

Yes, someone is always eager to point to Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger and say to me “not all Republicans.” To which I say:

Trump was known to be the most corrupt, inept, and outwardly racist and misogynistic choice from a field of at least 10 candidates. He was chosen by Republicans to be the presidential nominee—the figurehead of the party and what it stood for—because of his ability to exploit anger and fear, not in spite of it.

Someone out there might be able to appreciate a soggy square of moralistic toilet paper among a bowl full of pearl-clutching turds, but it ain’t me, babe.

I don’t know if that qualifies as snark, but it’s not meant to be. I want future scholars of American history to understand how abhorrent I find political conservatism. In 100 years I want them to smell the inhumanity of the dumpster fire that stacked the courts, rolled back voting rights, and told us the only way to stop mass shootings was to make sure angry, radicalized assassins had an easy time procuring multi-round guns and plenty of ammunition.

For me, each glimpse of Trump’s legacy burning is satisfying on multiple levels. It’s not just watching an arrogant asshole get what’s coming to him. It’s also witnessing a depraved, wholly self-interested political party scatter when the lights are turned on.

Our glee is a confession. An inappropriate but entirely natural response. A way of acknowledging the truth that fascism didn’t tighten its grip on this democracy because we accidentally let The Bad Guy’s wife redesign the Rose Garden, but because too many people planted hate and fear instead of carefully tending social justice.

For whatsoever a country soweth, that shall it also reap.

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