Sunday, 13 November 2011

(Lack of) professionalism of doctors.

My mum told me that before I was ill, she'd never have questioned a doctor- their conduct or their professionalism or their opinion or anything. I don't know whether it's generational or maybe even if it's a bit of a class thing. Or if there's nothing to it but a society breeding a respect for the educated, the intelligent. The magic of those with a seeming power over life and death. I don't suppose it really matters, apart from to wonder how far it spreads; how much to take and when to question; is there a line that doctor's cross at some point, or do most people spend their lives never questioning?

My mum is a lioness, more so when I'm especially ill and she doesn't think I'm getting the best care (I got a letter the other week, saying she'd made a complaint about my 'mental health care' and I had NO IDEA what she was complaining about, hahaha). This means that if it was her who was ill or not getting the best care, or to whom a doctor has said something unprofessional, she'd be less inclined to push for better. It also meant then, that she's gone through most of her life never arguing or expecting answers. I think most people would probably be the same, especially of her generation and older- whether it's youthful health and vitality or, as I'm sure some people would say, lack of respect- I'm sure, or maybe I hope, the yoof are more likely to question.

My psychiatrist told me on Tuesday that I've 'filled out'. The conversation sort of went:
Doctor- you're looking really well.
Me- oh, thanks.
Doctor- yes, you've really filled out-
Me- what?
Doctor- yes, yes. We were worried about your weight when you were last in, but over the last few weeks you can really tell that you've gained wei-
Me- shut up. SHUT UP. Why are you even saying this?
Doctor- it's a good thing! Have I said the wrong thing?
Me- are you actually shitting me?

I'm not one of those people who are precious about being told that they look well. A LOT of people with eating disorders take massive offense to that and manage to twist it into meaning they're fat, especially if they know the person is saying it because they've become a more healthy weight. I'm not like that, though. I have no interest in looking ill. But having to explain to a psychiatrist that the patient who had a feeding tube 3 weeks previously doesn't want to be told they're looking bigger? At least though, she was genuinely trying to tell me I looked better- she said it in completely the wrong way and she should have known better than to say that to somebody in my position, but it was the best intentions, right? Maybe when doctors say the wrong thing, it's always in good faith?

Umm... No. Don't presume professionalism. The doctor who saw me a month or so back and took a look at me, my yellow-painted nails and my scars and said, 'self-harm, hmm? Most people in your situation tend to wear black nail varnish, but I suppose yellow is a more attention-seeking colour.' That doctor's words can't so easily be justified. I mean, it was funny, that didn't have quite the effect of being told you're, yanno, more of a fatty now than you were 3 weeks previously, but it most definitely brings up some questions about professionalism. I remember laughing in his face, but the nurses being horrified. And even then, nothing being said. What if I'd never been treated for mental health problems before? That sort of a thing could really have effected me and stopped me accessing further care. As it was, me having been in the system, it was entertaining, but how many people have actually been effected by his words? You know, now I type there are a lot of instances from other 'professionals' I can think of, especially some of the crap I've had from the police. I'll save that for another day.

As a general rule, I'm not too into lecturing on this platform- my experiences aren't uniform and what has helped or not helped me isn't necessarily going to help others. But if there's one thing I'll tell you, don't take doctors as infallible. If they say something that you're not happy with, or treat you with any less respect than you'd treat them with, you bloody well tell them. It's so easy, especially when you're being treated for things linked to mental health, for them to disregard you or to make you feel like you're wasting their time, but really what it comes down to is they're paid and employed to help those who need it. Whether you have a cut from slipping, or from a mental slip-up, they have no right to treat you any differently or to say things that make you feel that way.


  1. A-fucking-MEN!

    I wish i could link every dr in the world to this post because this is something that really gets my back up!

    Love you x