When I saw you the other night in the ER, I was in no condition to stand up for myself. I was in extreme pain, exhausted, and lightheaded with it all. So when you dismissed me after five hours of waiting without any care or relief, I simply gathered my belongings and went home in tears. This is what I should have said…
I think you took one look at my chart and made a judgment. You saw that this was my fourth Emergency Room visit in a matter of three weeks and you concluded that there was nothing you could do for me. You saw the levels of pain medication I had been given before and decided that I must be looking for more.
What you didn’t see is that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and I live every day of my life in pain. Sure, some days are better than others, but pain has become my constant companion. So when I made all four of those treks to your ER, it was because I was pushed past the point of what I could tolerate. Yes, I am prescribed a high level narcotic for pain management, but that should be a red flag to you. If I tell you that it’s not helping my pain, that means my pain has reached astronomical levels for me. Because most days, that pain pill works just fine and I work very hard to use it sparingly. I am cautious of developing a tolerance or an addiction.
What I didn’t get a chance to tell you is that I was in your ER that night because I was following doctor orders. My discharge paperwork said to come back immediately if the pain worsened or changed. It did both, as well as my developing new symptoms. However you failed to acknowledge any of that.
I can’t really fault you. I know you have procedures to follow to keep us all safe. I just wish you had looked at the whole patient that night instead of just the notes in my chart. I wish there was some way to explain to a male doctor what it feels like to have ovarian cysts or even endometriosis. When I told your nurse that it felt like someone had reached up inside me and was clawing at my organs, that it felt like it was all being ripped apart from the inside out, I was trying my hardest to put into words that which is unexplainable. However, my female nurse paled at my description and hugged me in sympathy. Maybe it’s unfair to say you can’t understand because you’re a man, but it would appear that was the case.
I wanted to write this letter to you so that maybe you can help the next patient like me. Because I am not alone, sir. There are thousands of us fighting chronic illness. Thousands of patients who struggle each day to have the medical community understand their symptoms and help them. There are many of us who know more about our conditions than the doctors we see. We’re not all junkies looking for a fix. We research our symptoms and conditions, we search for all methods of treatment. We try vitamins, meditation, and alternative therapies to avoid abusing pain medication and medical services.
I’m not angry with you and I’m sorry if it comes across that way. I appreciate your Emergency Room and the service it offers. I try very hard to avoid needing those services. Sometimes it’s an inevitability. And at those times, having staff that listens and works with us patients makes all the difference in the world.