Yesterday I wrote about how my entire personality changed because of my need to stand up for myself in medical situations. I want to be clear about one thing: I make no apologies for how I act.
Sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes I screw up. I’m human, so of course I do things wrong. I try to take ownership and apologize when I’m at fault. Sometimes I screw that up, too, but I do my best. I’m not talking here about any of those things. I’m talking about medical situations where I’m pushy.
Like many of you, I was taught to be apologetic when I push too hard, but I only apologize when I truly cross a line. The rest of the time, I do what I need to do without apology, because if I apologize, then it encourages their low standards.
A couple years ago I had an appointment with a specialist. I waited almost 6 months for the appointment, but it was worth it so that I could see this particular doctor. When I finally showed up, I was taken in 30 minutes late to meet with someone else. My doctor was out and instead of calling and asking if I’d like to reschedule, they had me meet with this one. He was terrible. He said they couldn’t help me and suggested a psychologist. Before I left, I got the name of the person in charge. I called her and expressed my displeasure at the long wait and not being able to see the doctor I had been desperate to see. I was very strong in my expression of displeasure. I was not mean or nasty, I did not swear, but I was strong. Within a week she got me an appointment to see that doctor. Instead of the usual 15 minutes, he spent a full hour with me. Unlike the other, he discussed options, asked my opinion, took my view serious, and ran tests. He found that I had a serious but treatable problem. I called back the woman in charge, told her how well things went, and thanked her profusely. I certainly never apologized.
I asked my doctor to test me for lactose intolerance. He said there was no test for it, but that I should keep a food and symptom journal and he’d send it to a nutritionist. We did that, and he told me that nutritionist said I’m not lactose intolerant and I should just avoid foods that bother me. It didn’t feel right, but I went along with him. After 20 years of frequent diarrhea, nausea, cramping, and pain so bad that I literally wanted to die, I found out that I had Celiac Disease. Last year I was going through old medical records and found the letter the nutritionist had sent back to him. She said that I didn’t appear to be lactose intolerant but that something was definitely wrong and I should see her. I’ve been very sorry about that – sorry that I didn’t push for better treatment.
I have dozens, probably hundreds, of stories like these. I bet you do, too. I regret the times I didn’t stand up for myself but I haven’t once regretted the times that I did. So I’ll make no apologies. And if anyone has a problem with that, too bad for them.
P.S. If I sound defensive and bitter, you can imagine why.
Now it’s your turn. Have you had to be pushy in order to stand up for yourself? Did you regret doing it? Did you regret not doing it? Share one or two of your favorite stories in the comments!