Why Don’t Doctors Listen to Women?

I hear it all the time: Why don’t doctors listen to women? Who would know their own bodies better? Yet time and time again, women tell their doctors how they are feeling only to have the doctors make the leap to diagnosing the women as depressed or overreacting, or give some other dismissive response. Why?

How do we dispel the age-old myths that women are emotional, overreactive and generally unable to describe their own medical conditions? The answer is not a simple one, but it’s critical that we get our message across–because our lives depend on it.

Women having heart attacks often present very differently than men. We don’t experience the classic arm tingling or piercing pain in the chest; sometimes a stomachache or shoulder pain are the warnings signs. If you are experiencing pain that is completely different and out of the norm for you,  particularly if the pain is worse with exercise, then go to the ER and announce that you are having a heart attack. Do not be dismissed with an antacid and a wish for your well being.

There are many examples of illnesses that are dismissed by some doctors. I care for patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I have heard the most outrageous stories. Women encouraged by their doctors to change the color of their hair,  have a makeover, find a new boyfriend or, most often, seek care elsewhere. A disabling and devastating illness is trivialized while patients are given antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications instead of proper evaluation and treatment. It is infuriating and harmful.

If you are suffering from a chronic illness and your doctors are not responding, here’s what you should do: First, make a series of appointment with an appropriate physician so that you can cover all your issues without the doctor feeling rushed or stressed by trying to deal with an overwhelming amount of information in a short amount of time. If the doctor has 7-minute appointments, use the time wisely. Visit One is a get-to-know-you; Visit Two is to deal with your sleep issues, Visit Three your headaches, etc. The doctor will be pleased you understand the time constraints and work with you. If you find you simply cannot communicate or don’t trust your doctor to have your best interests in mind, find another! You have to be your best advocate. Value yourself!

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/ / CC BY 2.0

Comments

  1. This is insane. True and helpful but insane. Can you imagine if men were told the same thing? If you want decent care you need to be well researched, really assertive, and take time out of several days to make multiple appointments. I hope that things change and one day my daughter’s health care providers wont automatically assume that women are crazy.

  2. NYCprochoiceMD says:

    Sadly, doctors don’t listen to men either, especially when it comes to problems that are multifactorial and hard to address, like depression or chronic pain. I would also recommend that at visits you pick 1 or 2 things that are most important and stick to those; unfortunately the 5 minutes we’re given per patient are just not enough to address multiple concerns.

  3. I agree that doctors don’t really listen to anyone, but it IS worse for women. I would ASSume that this is because a lot of men tend not to go to the doctor unless something is seriously wrong and us women are “worriers”. So we are not taken seriously because we actually are concerned about our health. This is just a theory though.

    And while the idea of scheduling three appointments just so your doctor can effectively treat you is a good idea, many Americans (including myself) have no or just plain terrible health insurance. I can’t afford to go see the doctor ONCE, much less three times. If your doctor visit is 150$ without insurance, with this three visit logic, you’re paying almost 500$ to get a simple diagnosis.

  4. NYCprochoiceMD says:

    Sadie, I agree with you completely. It’s because of the cost of care, as well as the cost of missing work, that patients are forced to try to cram everything into one visit. Our health care system needs some serious work.

  5. I agree with Amanda above. While helpful insofar as bringing to light the issues that are playing out in women’s health, I also agree that the advice is a bit off. Men are not, for the most part, treated this way, why on earth should women accommodate any professional we are employing as a partner in our own health care?? While I also agree that being very clear on what you want to talk about, scheduling a series of appointments is absolutely NUTS!!!! Who has that kind of money? Who has that kind of time? Why confirm that women may need special care? Being well researched is the best way to do it and, what I do is come prepared with questions written down. Let the physician know (or her staff) that you will want to spend a little time talking as this is important, and YOU ARE PARTNERs in your health care!
    Thank you Nancy for discussing these points. I do, however, think you may have missed an opportunity to further help women in getting what they need. Women do need to think of docs as their partners and they do need to be more assertive and have reasonable expectations of proper consultation.

  6. The CDC uses gender bias to keep chronic fatigue syndrome under wraps – a contageous disease that CDC has been hiding for 25 years, claiming it is a woman’s disease caused by an inability to handle stress. I have been sick for two decades – I have almost no natural killer cell function, abnormal Rnase-L antiviral defenses, recurring EBV (mono), HHV-6, HHV-7, cytomegalovirus, and the newly discovered retrovirus XMRV. You don’t want to know how sick I am. Fortunately I can afford good medical care (I am on an immune modulator) – but my friends don’t have as much to live on as the cost of this one drug per year.

    CDC pretends these tests are worthless – despite being published in refereed professional journal articles – because, they say, not everyone with a “CFS” diagnosis is positive for each and every test. Forget those of us so unfortunate as to actually be positive for all these tests – we’re just neurotic women.

    In England they even insist it is “neurasthenia” – what used to be called “the vapors” – and CDC’s website on CFS directs doctors to the BRITISH treatment – cognitive behavior therapy and graded exercise – in England they have even sent women to mental hospitals against their will. Some have died.

    There is strong evidence of contagion – at least one million Americans have this disease. But there is no money for research.

    Yes, men get this too – and get treated just like us – but the government continues to portray this as a “female” disorder.

    If anything remains of feminism in the U.S., please take this seriously. You never recover from this disease; and people who have had it for years are dying of rare cancers, heart infection, and malnutrition from failure of esophageal muscles.

    Go to the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee’s website at
    http://www.hhs.gov/advcomcfs/
    And click on the videos from the October meetings. Dr. Klimas was there. You will learn a lot – and maybe help us.

    In the meantime, the CDC insists there are no tests, there are no treatments, and the women who have it can get over it with talking therapy and exercise.

    Thank you for bringing this up, Dr. Klimas. What are the women out there going to do with the information?

  7. Thank you for a great post, Mary. My health problems started with a 105 degree fever for several days. I was never the same again. “Depression”, “anxiety” and “work-o-phobia” (some of the diagnoses I’ve received) don’t start with what appears to be a severe case of stomach flu. When I’ve brought in reports from psychiatrists saying I’m perfectly well-adjusted, the doctors refused to accept those reports, telling me to see a different psych, and keep looking till I find a psych who’s willing to confirm the doctor’s amateur MISdiagnosis. They don’t want to accept that they’re wrong.

    As a result of my health deteriorating while doctors refused to do anything but tell me to get counseling and take psychiatric drugs, I’ve been told I’ll never work full-time again. I have several positive blood tests showing some sort of virus in my system (I can’t afford the additional tests to find out which virus), but some doctors are still in denial that there could be anything wrong with me.

    They’re quite clear on their version of the story, that I got married because I wanted to quit my job, and then my husband dumped me for someone younger. Except that’s not quite the way the real facts add up: I had a career I loved, I was the one who dumped my husband, and his new girlfriend was a year older than I was. Never mind, the doctor’s version of the facts is right; I’m the one who’s wrong. I’ve even been told that I never had the virus that kicked off the cascade of events, that I’m imagining it because I don’t want to admit to the stigma of psych problems. (I guess I took that week off work to go on vacation?)

    The worst of it is, if the doctors had listened to me about what prescriptions I needed, I could have been back to work in a few months. Instead, ten years later, I’m still unable to work.

    • Dear CFS Facts, Oh Boy! How I feel for you…. I am fighting to find a doctor that will listen to me also. So tired! I have diagnosed myself during very critical times twice already. I said to my therapist once, “I am starting to believe I am crazy!” She responded, “Lisa crazy people don’t think they are crazy.” Boy does that make sense or what?! But to convince a egotistical doctor that you know what is wrong with you is almost an impossible task! Can you tell I am passionate about all you have written about and experienced to an extent myself? I hope as women can rally together and let them know, ” Your diagnosis of CRAZY is CRAZY!!” And what blows my mind with your story is you have actual PHYSICAL symptoms!!! Damn them! Let’s go girls! Lets squash those ego’s! Prove them wrong as hard a path as it may seem…… Good luck lets beat this stereotype and if we truly have become crazy maybe we can prove they are reponsible for the diagnosis!

  8. Yeah, believe it or not this has nothing to do with being a Man or Woman, it has to Doctors having no continuing education, and almost everything they know being out dated.

  9. Thank you for this important post — sadly, these types of doctor-patient interactions are not uncommon, and I agree that there are serious individual- and public-health level consequences. I wrote about this topic in a 2008 research article, “From the Patient’s Point of View: Practitioner Interaction Styles in the Treatment of Women with Chronic STDs” and encourage all of us not only to object to what many call “biomedical” practitioners but also to be aware that “moral surveillance” practitioners exist — both types are doing serious damage to their patients. [Article can be accessed for free online at http://www.adinanack.com/From%20the%20Patient's%20Point%20of%20View.pdf

  10. Mary Schweitzer said : “CDC pretends these tests are worthless – despite being published in refereed professional journal articles – because, they say, not everyone with a “CFS” diagnosis is positive for each and every test. Forget those of us so unfortunate as to actually be positive for all these tests – we’re just neurotic women”
    Not only the CDC make decisions for themselves, the CDC is trusted by many other medical entities, making the doctors believe we are being irrational, hysterical, depressed and anxious.

    Thank you Nancy Klimas for this article that is well written and a great advice.

  11. Why are doctors failing to uphold their Hippocratic Oath? Because they have been poorly trained and mislead, primarily because of failures by the CDC to take our illnesses seriously as they preferred to misspend tax dollars appropriated for ME.

    As a sufferer from ME(cfs) I have to budget not only money but my energy strictly: if I go out to a doctor’s appointment I know I will be knocked flat for a week or two afterwards. Can I afford to see the doctor, when I need to use my energy to get groceries? If I shop for groceries myself, will I have the energy left to cook? If I call on a friend for a favor and they shop for me, will they be able to do that again next week when I’m writhing in pain from having had to go see the doctor?

    Those are my considerations for one visit for myself. Add to that the care of two children who also have ME/CFS. The dishes pile up, I can’t comprehend my household bills, I’m rendered completely disabled by every attempt to accomplish any one thing. What I need are doctors who have been trained in the proper diagnosis and treatment of my illness in spite of my gender.

    We are just one family. Multiply this by millions. Consider not only that the potential contribution of each one of us to society is lost to our illness, but the real threat that any one of us could infect you, and you, and you. Because this is contagious. Because the method of transmission isn’t known. Because carriers can donate blood that may be in your next hemophilia treatment or surgery transfusion.

    Think of the awful health hazards and get angry, and THEN talk to your doctor, medical schools, the CDC, the NIH and most of all your senators and representatives who are in charge of grant allocations and can bring pressure to bear on the agencies whose mandate it is to protect us all from infectious disease.

    There. I have used up my energy budget by pushing myself to write this appeal. I thank Dr. Klimas for bringing the problem to the attention of Ms. readers and offering a solution some individuals may pursue, but she knows that the solution is so much more than the multiple medical appointments we could theoretically make with our own providers.

    Please, every reader, don’t let my use of energy this morning have gone to waste. Women are dying of malpractice. Get on the phone to your elected officials and demand that the neglect be stopped, and appropriate studies be funded now.

  12. Heidi Bauer says:

    It’s great advice, but hard to implement. And, the worst part is that I have two doctors who are both female that have considered me “over-reacting”. One was my endocrinologist (the only one within a 25 miles radius). When I handed her paperwork detailing my mother’s MEN IIa Medullary Thyroid cancer and the 50% risk I had of developing it, she told me she would not recommend taking my thyroid out. I had not even mentioned doing such a thing! At the time it was of special concern because I was dealing with a very painful thyroiditis as well which turned out to be Hashimoto’s disease. Then, I go to a doctor (female again) who has some exposure during her medical training to CFS and hoped she’d be more helpful, or at least understanding. With each appointment this year as I struggle with severe lymph node pain from CFS (presumably) she has become less and less compassionate, very dismissive and barely gives me my 10 minutes of allotted time.

    It is truly unfortunate that the men who are typically training these women are passing on their gender bias. I appreciate those women who are not brainwashed into “wrong thinking”.

    • karen hogan says:

      i agree with you Heidi,with every appointment that l struggle to see my Dr l'm feeling that he is less compassionate and very dismissive to me as well,l waited over 15 minutes or more over my appointment time to see him for him to tell me in other words he has no time to explain my throid problem as well as CFS/ME they should'nt be able to dismiss us as they do !!!!!

  13. I appreciate it whenever I see Dr. Klimas writing about CFS. Those of us who suffer from it have been ignored too long my the medical establishment. Often our own families and friends don’t understand just how debilitating this illness is. I got a viral infection and never recovered. It cost me my career as a university professor. Slowly but surely I’ve found a way to live a good life, even though it’s mostly from the bed (I’m having a book published on how I’ve come to terms with illness — click on my name and it will take you to the website on the book).

    Again, thank you Dr. Klimas!

    Toni Bernhard

  14. Erik Johnson says:

    1. Go to doctor appointments armed with a pile of evidence showing abnormalities in CFS.
    2. Either take a man with you to the appointment or bring several members of your support group… ALL armed with equally impressive piles of evidence.
    3. Tell your doctor that due to memory problems, you have brought a small tape recorder and intend to tape the entire appointment, so as not to forget a single second of his precious wisdom.
    4. Begin the appointment by telling the doctor that you had to abandon your last one because he was an idiot who didn’t “believe in CFS”, and that you are looking forward to working with a compassionate and intelligent one who understands and believes that CFS is a serious and disabling illness… “Oh, and… you DO believe in CFS… don’t you, doctor?”

    Good luck.

  15. Unfortunately I have very similar story to report being the mother of a 19 year old who got a high fever at age 15 and then got CFS. She has been through the mill with all her doctors who have given her a very hard time even after she was labelled as having CFS. Very little that has been helpful has been give n in the way of treatment. We have spent a lot of money on health care and she remains ill. As a mother my heart breaks to read all your stories. This disease is still not believed and patients who have it are discriminated against as if they are hypochondriacs. ACtually the first pediatrician called her a hypochondriac ( behind her back)
    and then dumped us after the diagnosis by a premier Specialist at Children’s Hospital of Boston. Even renowned MD’s have not been nice. It has been an experiece of the health care abusing us. Truly a nightmare.

  16. Patrick says:

    I’m male, have CFS and I was treated badly.

    I’m not convinced gender is the factor that means one gets treated badly.
    I’m inclined to go with NYCprochoiceMD (post #2).

    I think one male behaviour that might have protected me and maybe protects other males is the tendency to put off going to the doctor.
    I could see the way the doctors were treating me when tests were coming back negative so decided not to push things too much.
    I think if I had gone more frequently, I might have ended up with a referral to a psychiatrist.

    I later relapsed and my symptoms became more clear-cut. I was glad I didn’t have a psychiatric label as it might have held me back.

  17. First, make a series of appointments with an appropriate physician

    Shoot, i wish someone could tell me how to do this.

    I’ve been thru years of dealing with docs who told me i was “just depressed” starting about 6 months after a fluoride treatment when i was 16. Except i didn’t then relate it to the fluoride & if i had i would have been dismissed as crazy. I knew then that it was a PHYSICAL problem, but the doc i saw didn’t do one thing to check my physical health. He immediately assumed i was a depressed, hysterical teenager.

    I went thru years & years of this. Eventually accepted that i was “just depressed” because by then i WAS. Took their antidepressants which did not help & sometimes made it worse. Have since learned that a large portion of meds are fluoride based, including prozac, paxil, lexapro & celexa. But even so, on “the chart” of functioning, i was able to function at a 60 or 70% level most of the time. Until about 3 years ago when i was prescribed Cipro for an infection. I’ve never recovered from that. I now function at a 20 – 40% level & am getting worse. Yes, Cipro is fluoride-based.

    My husband & i have spent thousands of dollars out of pocket trying to find someone who could help. I’ve been trying alternative medicine because of the appalling lack of help from conventional medicine. In some ways it hasn’t been much better.

    I saw a naturopath who put me on 30 pills of supplements a day & a difficult diet. When i didn’t improve it was “my fault” for not following thru on her advice. I spent 9 months seeing her & trying to follow her protocol, but eventually gave up.

    I tried a concierge doc, thinking that more time would help. He jumped on the fact that i’m overweight & (by his scales) just over the line to be “obese.” Obviously, i’ve got to lose weight! Never mind that my adrenals are blown & my thyroid function not consistent. If i could just lose that 25 pounds, all my problems would be over!

    A large part of this problem is that just to see the doc & find out if they are someone who “believes” in CFS & is someone i can work with, i have to shell out about $250 out of pocket. If they don’t work? Well, shell out another $250 more for the next doc. I have access to the docs in the Greater Los Angeles area. It shouldn’t be this hard! How on earth am i suppose to know if they are good or not?

    I’m willing to pay for the time if the person is good, but i’m beyond “doctor shopping” at such an expensive rate.

    BTW, i had a yeast infection last summer/fall that i wasn’t able to clear on my own with herbal meds. Saw 2 different docs in this area for it. The first was simply amused & gave me a powder (which i was willing to use). But it didn’t fully clear the infection. As he was so amused, i saw another doc. He offered me Diflucan. I explained i could not use it because it was fluoride-based & he didn’t know what i was talking about. He went to his mini-PDR & it didn’t inform him either except to tell him not to prescribe it to anyone who had had a “reaction to related products.” I’m not saying the CFS is only created by fluoride, but in my case & looking at my history, i can clearly trace back the onset of CFS & my recent regression to fluoride. Fluoride is hidden in a lot of things. It wouldn’t hurt to do some research that direction.

    MDs have very little respect from me. Very few have critical thinking skills to see outside the box which they have been taught & look for answers beyond drugs, drugs, & more drugs.

    I thank Dr. Kilmas for her sensitivity & speaking up for CFS folks, but i do wish there was a data-base or something of docs who take this seriously.

  18. Josette Lincourt says:

    It is obvious to any Canadian that the advice given to people with ME/CFS applies in the U.S. and certainly not in most provinces in Canada, particularly Québec. Here, one out of every three persons does not have a GP, so how one goes about making a series of appointments with any appropriate one just falls off by the wayside. One cannot see any type of specialist without a referral from a GP, so there! We may have a health system touted as free, but now those who have doctors who send them for tests – many of which are available free of charge – are told that they can get quicker results (2-3 weeks instead of 6-8 months) if they go to private labs. And doctors don’t listen to women here either. I have told many friends and acquaintances over the years that we are all labeled as hysterics…

  19. Right on, Erik. I take my husband with me to my appointments with my PCP who is a female. She apparently seems to take me more seriously when my husband is there to corroborate what I’m saying. What’s up with that????? It’s truly frustrating. Also, she is always running on a “tight” schedule and doesn’t want to take too much time. Most of the time is spent with her reviewing what happened at the last appointment and then trying to fit my reason for being there into the two seconds she has left. Of course, then, time is up and she wants to schedule another appointment to finish this one which was essentially wasted. Go figure! …. BTW – My hubby is sitting here as I type this and chimes in … “This is so true!”

    • I can think of one valid reason why bringing your husband in gets better results- if it is noticible to other people, your health issue is definitely affecting your daily life.

      • I was seen in ER for symptoms that turned out to be MS, unfortunately the doctors sent me home with “vertigo” diagnosis because the brain MRI was clear. When seen in the Vertigo clinic (3 months later!) the doctor began talking to stress and anxiety as she walked into the room, literally. When I attempted to explain that I am not under stress/anxiety and when I do have stress I deal with it appropriately…she began talking over me and would not let me finish. This went on 4 different times during the visit. Eventually I left the office. When I looked up the hospital website (where she works) she had a professional statement under her picture that referred to her working in the field of neurolody becasue “in the end, the effects of stress on the body are thru neurology.” OBVIOUSLY she had a pre-determined agenda. Through a spinal MRI I was eventually diagnosed with MS from a Different Neurologist!

  20. Lisa Nicholson says:

    I’ve had 3 yrs of disabling symptoms that started with my face going totally numb/stiff in 24 hrs and rapidly progressed to severe sudden attacks of nerve pain, muscle/joint pain, vertigo/feeling upside down, sudden chills/temperature disregulation, leg weakness, trouble going up stairs, tripping and generally feeling like my brain and muscles weren’t communicating. Then came the debilitating fatigue to the point I couldn’t like the blow dryer or put a single dish in the dishwasher. My neurologist did much testing to rule out everything under the sun including MS. Eventually he sent me to Mayo Rochester where the “brilliant” neurologist told me (after seeing the symptom log I had created and kept only out of my desperation for help), “I’ve seen this a million times in women. We do all this testing and there’s never anything wrong. The problem is in your head. Go home – you need a psychological exam.” To which I replied “If I were a man there’s not a chance in hell you would have said that to me with these symptoms.” He huffed and walked out of the appt on me and I walked straight to patient affairs and filed a complaint!
    But I had no choice but to go home and suffer 2 more yrs before a kind MD recognized the symptoms as Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency! He ran an IGF-1 test and I was way out of range low. So off I go to Mayo in January 2010 for a growth hormone stim test so I can prove to the insurance company I need growth hormone due to my symptoms and lab result.
    Oh yes, the Mayo endocrinologist couldn’t refuse the stim test – but even though I failed the test (3.47 when even the insurance companies consider anything below a 5.0 a fail!!) He said I passed, that it was CFS caused by severe sleep apnea (which I don’t have per sleep specialist) and to go home and learn to not overdo it when I feel good (when is that?!) Which is I guesse ‘standard’ recommendations for CFS. He didn’t even do anything about the chest pain or the “markedly abnormal T-wave abnormalities on the heart scan and wouldn’t prescribe growth hormone!
    Luckily I found Growth Hormone specialist who confirmed I failed (3rd MD to say so and say Mayo was wrong (!!). He’s now evaluating me for Cushings given the fact the
    symptoms come ine episodes/crashing.
    Sorry to bore you with the details… But given all the symptoms, clearly this couldn’t be depression/etc. How stupid do they think we are?! To make matters worse, I’ve since learned the a MALE patient saw the same doc within a couple weeks of me and his testing wasn’t as low as mine but he got put on growth hormone right away. UGH!
    Moral of the story? If a doctor, no matter how much of an ‘expert’ they’re supposed to be treats you like this, do what I was told by one kind MD to do (he has Growth Hormone Deficiency himself so is very kind and helpful) – he said “tell them you’re DONE with dinkin around and get up and WALK OUT immediately!” If enough of us women start demanding fair and good service and speak up for ourselves…and take our business with us, eventually they will learn. Here in MINUTE Mayo ‘walks on water’. But not in my book. To me they’re nothing more than a good ‘ole boys club with an antiquated perspective on women and medical conditions. The insurance company and I spent almost $100,000.00 on those 2 trips only to get wrong info and wrong diagnosis! Buyer beware!

  21. Lisa your symptoms sound very familiar to some of my daughters’. Do you go to
    a endocrinologist? Your story needs to go TV for Hard to Diagnose problems as people would benefit from this story. I agree MD’s don’t really like complex problems and are abusive toward patients who have them. It is sad and very enraging
    enough so that a person wants to bring legal action!

  22. Doctors *rolls eyes*. Thank you for this post. Eric Johnson`s advice is similar to the advice given me when attempting to get a diagnosis for AS. Doctor after Doctor said Depressed, Anxiety, Making Things Up, Depressed, Anxiety…

    1. Be Prepared. Do your research. Know the facts.

    2. Bring supporting evidence. In my case I printed off diagnostic criteria and then brought case studies of illustrative behavior from people who know me well like family and long time friends. This included written and visual testimony.

    4. Keep Documents. Create Documents. Leave No Stone Unturned. Bring a tape recorder. If you can this is tantamount. It is proof that the Dr. either acted flippantly, unprofessionally, or wasn`t listening. It is also helpful if you need to continue onto another Dr. or if you happen to find a good Dr. and wish to remember what was said, literally.

    If you are having trouble finding a Dr that will listen find a group of people in your area with similar issues, Google works well for this. Talk with those people and find out who listened to them. Find out if someone can give you a referral.

    5. Hold your ground. Fight.

  23. The person I know with ME is male, and that hasn’t helped him much. My going to doctors’ appointments with him helps a little, even though I’m female. They don’t necessarily believe him, but with a witness present, they’re a little nicer to him.

  24. @Erik,

    “Begin the appointment by telling the doctor that you had to abandon your last one because he was an idiot who didn’t “believe in CFS”, and that you are looking forward to working with a compassionate and intelligent one who understands and believes that CFS is a serious and disabling illness… “Oh, and… you DO believe in CFS… don’t you, doctor?”

    Better yet, the first question you might ask the doctor is:

    “So, what do You think CFS is?”

    If they stammer and stumble, then just leave and/or go to step 2 if they seem willing. But you can pretty much surmise If they know anything, and/or # 2) If they are willing to learn, and how much You will need to prepare them adequately to be able to treat and support you in a meaningful way that will give you the best possible quality of life you can hope for at this point in time.

    I know so many of us do not have many options, and have to deal with doctors that either placate us, and/or support us only as far as They see fit (Not willing to have a patient who might actually have something to bring to the table, and who (the patient) actually may know even more than the doctor regarding their specific care options).

    Even why i try and get an initial approximation of what teh doctor knows about CFS, before stepping into their office, 100% of the time I have received a “O noooo, you have to make an appt. and talk to him personaly” If they only knew the hardship it causes me to even drive there.

    And yeah, and we have the CDC to thank for most of the reactions/non-reactions we receive when facing doctors with a CFS diagnosis.

  25. I think I know what women feel like while being trivialized at the doctors office or the workplace or anywhere else for that matter. I actually had a neurologist tell me “well you have all of the symptoms of CFS but that’s mostly a woman’s disease.” Who knows what this knuckle head was thinking. As a man in this situation I’m probably more conditioned to deal with this the same as I would an incompetent auto mechanic or plumber, just take my business elsewhere. About a year later a very competent rheumatologist diagnosed my CFS and my severe osteoporosis. As a 50 year old man with years of weight training, running etc. the brittle bones were a surprise to me. I’m grateful this Dr did not overlook this as I was at extreme risk of a fracture at the time. After all osteoporosis is “mostly a woman’s disease.” So I take that pill once a week just like the little old ladies in the commercial and I take my business to that very competent doctor. I do wonder though how often people go undiagnosed just because of a doctor that is below average like the three others that overlooked my osteoporosis after seeing the same x-rays. I guess my point is there’s probably as many men walking around with undiagnosed osteoporosis as women with undiagnosed heart disease and a lot of both with undiagnosed CFS. I also finally got the interest of my GP when I took my wife with me. If you have a partner with you it means at least two thirds of the people in the room agree that you are sick. That makes it evidence based medicine.

  26. When one ob/gyn said it was "impossible" to have endometriosis pain 1 yr after a laparoscopy & while on hormones (& told me I couldn't possibly feel a specific location in my abdomen!), he put me through thousands of $$ of tests that ruled out everything else. I had the luxury of telling that doctor he was fired; after all, he made his living from serving me. I got a 2nd opinion, he looked at the tests & affirmed my claim with "of course it can return & not be seen" & changed my meds- which worked.

  27. I am now thinking I need to get certified as disabled for interlocking health issues- repetitive strain injuries, the FMS they triggered, arthritis, several spinal surgeries, migraines, Crohn's, continuing treatment after cancer, and the ubiquitous depression & anxiety that are the natural result. I can't find work because my health appointments & problems make me miss too much time. I can't type fast enough (because of injuries) to do at-home jobs, I can't sit or stand in the same position for any length of time & can't walk far. That doesn't leave many options.
    My husband almost makes enough for us to get by, but not quite. But his income is enough to disqualify me for several government services like food & income assistance. I am trying to go back to school, but worry about how many loans I'll need to take out. Ironically, I am taking classes in Public Health!

  28. What I want to know is Why are physicians so money hungry that they only give you a few minutes for examining you. I finally, after years of insults from drs., have three GOOD Drs. who give me enough time. I guess I’m pretty jaded but this seven minute thing and having to go back numerous times just to get your point across is costly and when you’re sick you need to know what is wrong. The very least a Dr. can do is LISTEN to patients with respect before LABELING or dismissing them. And for God’s sake why do they give us such a small slot of their time???????????????????

  29. After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are
    added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment.
    There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that
    service? Thanks!

  30. I don’t see where your original comment is, Janice. Is it on this blog post?

  31. My doctor told me not to come and see him again with this problem. He said I had a few palpitations learn to live with them. I was weak and unable to cook dinner at night. I just ran out of energy. Christmas shopping with friends my shoulder and jaw started to give me terrible pain. I had been having that problem for a while but it just intensified while out in the cold. That night I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t breath. My husband insisted I see some doctor anyone but my regular doctor. I did that morning I found someone to check me. I walked into his office having a heart attack. I had another one a few days later, they called my family thinking I wasn’t going to make it. A month later I came out of the hospital. I was 38.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ms. Magazine, Amanda. Amanda said: So frustrating that this is reality. RT @msmagazine Why Don’t Doctors Listen to Women? http://ht.ly/1LguJ [...]

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