Tuesday, September 1, 2015

An Open Letter To Care Providers

Dear Care Provider,

I am not a number on a chart, a line copied from your medical textbook, nor a statistic that always fits into carefully written criteria. I am so much more than the diagnosis code you entered into your medical files; I am a human being with emotions, dreams, goals, and a life outside of your small exam room. When you see me for those brief moments once a month you seem to make such vast assumptions about my existence. You assert your opinion on my emotional ability to deal with my illness firmly, as if your perspective is the only possible truth. You ask me how I believe I am coping with my situation, to which I state my conviction, but you do not hear me. You have already written your opinion in my record, you have already made your judgment even though my belief is contrasting to your own. 
"Depressed."
The word now rings out loud on my chart, one that I do not believe is true. A definition of myself that you decided after only having met me for a fleeting moment. How could this word possibly not be true you assume, I mean look at this life she is forced to lead; oxygen tanks, feeding tubes, central lines, chemotherapy, mobility aids, constant pain, crushed dreams, and a terminal prognosis at the age of 24. This is all you see, the professional patient that I have become since disease over-through my life. You see a name on a chart, a laundry list of medications, an upcoming appointment list with over 16 procedures, and a health summery with more diagnosis than you can count on both hands. You must feel it's safe to assume that word you describe me as, you feel there is no other feasible alternative to an emotional status. 
The truth is, you know nothing of my life beyond your waiting room chairs. Your stance on my emotional standing is established by looking through a small key hole into my situation. This key hole supplies you a restricted view, so please do not base your conviction about me on that. Yes, I am a woman with emotions, and yes I have probably cried in your office, which given the circumstances I deem to be very appropriate. That does not however, give you the right to summarize my moment of weakness in your office as the interpretation of my being. While yes I have moments of depression, deep enveloping depression, I would not classify myself as a depressed individual. I find so much joy in this broken life. I write a blog, I enjoy time with friends, I go on adventures with my husband, I snuggle with my kitty, and I love every minute of this shattered reality. 
You would not know this because you never ask. Never have you inquired about my happiness, never once asking about the things that bring me pleasure and fulfillment. You focus only on the negative, never even imagining I could be happy with my imperfect life. To be honest your judgment of me was made before I even entered those clinic doors. You made your verdict while reading my chart notes from the last doctor that chances are, didn't ask me either.

Sincerely,
Broken, but Happy.

19 comments:

  1. You tell them Chanel!
    Crying or being vulnerable in front of a doctor, or in front of your friends, or all alone in your bathroom is not a sign of weakness, it's just part of being human. I shouldn't say "just" part of being human. Being genuine, open, and guileless should not be looked down upon or cause you to be labeled as depressed, even if you do experience that sometimes. Too many times labels are used to keep people inside a box. Labels are restrictive and it diminishes the person who is so much more than that label. I just realized that I pretty much reiterated what you said it your post. :) It's just that your post really got me going! Any doctor who labelled you as depressed probably used the label as a cop out, perhaps so he doesn't have to bother looking at you as anything other than a diagnosis code because he doesn't have it in his character to see his patients as human and have empathy for them. I'm not saying there is anything wrong or bad about being depressed, it is what it is sometimes. But doctors should not be presumptuous, and use that label as an excuse to be dismissive of their patients.

    Keep speaking your truth Chanel! Your honesty is an inspiration!
    Julie

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    1. Everything you just said! Absolutely ALL OF IT! Gold! Thank you so much Julie! ;) Your comment brought a huge smile to my face! I love it when readers really "get" my posts! You are awesome! Big Hugs!

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  2. Nicely written, Chanel. This is a lesson for everyone to learn -- don't assume anything, at either end
    of the spectrum. Just as your "terrible conditions" don't mean that you are always depressed, neither
    does a smile on the face indicate that all is well. We all need to be recognized as the individuals we
    are and to be truly "listened to" with ears that hear and eyes that see, as the scriptures say.

    Keep posting. You touch our hearts!
    Aunt Linda

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    1. Very good point! It definitely works on both end of the spectrum; I have found myself on each side many times. :)

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  3. Hmmmmmm, I have an idea. They should take some time and READ YOUR BLOG! !! It's not that difficult. Stupid, know it alls.

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  4. I enjoy reading your blogs, you speak the truth and I know everyone living with chronic illnesses can relate. It hurts my heart when I hear people summarizing my health into some pity analysis. Stupid people always say, "I feel sorry for you!" I'll ask, Why? I don't feel sorry for myself! I'm fine, I'm going to be alright! Then, there's the crazies, you must've done something bad in your life for God to let this happen to you. I really wish people would take more time out educating themselves and read up on chronic illnesses instead of perusing through gossip blogs about the celebrities they're obsessed with. Chanel, you are a phenomenal 24 years old young woman and we are blessed to have you in our lives. Stay Blessed and Take Care.

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    1. Aw thank you SO much Sy! It was such a pleasure to meet you at the conference! And I totally agree... I don't feel sorry for myself! I love my broken life! ;) When life throws you hard balls you pick up, learn to deal, and move on! People definitely need to take more time to truly educate themselves! Amen girl! Hugs!

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  5. Seriously powerful Chanel. You are so unbelievable. Were right here with ya. I'm right here with ya. Every step of the way.

    Taylor Melnik

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  6. Hey Chanel...all that I can say is I am inspired beyond what anybody in this world can fathom, so keep inspiring and don't lose hope...you are the best...!!
    People see what they have to....and I see life in you...so go on and be eternal...God is with you...!!

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    1. Kira! You have no idea how glad I am that you decided to comment on my post! Your addition was absolutely valuable and eloquent to me! It absolutely touched my heart, and made me feel like a million bucks actually! lol ;) Big Big BIG hugs from the US!

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  8. Such a poignant post. You should seriously consider sending this by mail to the CEO of the health system for the doctor that treated you this way (and to the doctors you no longer have who treated you equally poorly.) Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and compassion, and not categorized in a box!

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  9. You have the most eloquent way with words!
    As a chronic pain patient, not victim or sufferer thanks but no, I Feel that pain of being labeled as "depressed". I was also labeled "confrontational" by one pharmacist throughout the entire southeast chain of that drugstore! I went to my previous pharmacist, in the state I started going in, and she cleared up my records. It was due to his "opinion" that I didn't need to take the medications my dr prescribed for me (& I have taken so many, can't take NSAIDs, ibuprofen, ketamine, sulfa etc or I lean toward cardiac issues, passing out & puking! The things we learn along our paths!) & I should use these other things so he didn't feel he could fill my meds, I had been going there for 5 yrs. I lost it. Completely.
    I have since learned more control & started blogging (ha!) and one of the surgical assistants I've had for 7 yrs follows me & now my dr is starting to read my stuff too!
    You're so Fabulous & Never stop fighting for you!
    Keep hope alive!!

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    1. Girl you deserved to let loose on them! ;) I cant stand when pharmacists think they know better than our docs! I am so glad you found blogging as an outlet, it has helped me tremendously as well. Hugs to you fabulous fighter!

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