Oh, how I wish I'd known then what I know now.
Ten years ago, in the spring of 2001, the world fell out from under me. I was hit with unbelievable exhaustion. No matter how I ate, how much I exercised, or how much good sleep I got I was so tired I couldn't function. I couldn't parent. I went to bed for about a year and a half. More on that story another time.
After a few months (when I knew it wasn't getting better, and after much prodding from my husband and other friends and family) I finally went to my doctor. I told him how tired I was. I told him I couldn't get anything done. His words are forever burned into my mind. "You have five small children; of course you're tired."
And that was it. Since nothing showed up in a cursory glance, in a routine physical, there must not be anything wrong with me. I had tried to explain that it was more than that. It was more than tired. I was not a human anymore. I was a shell, a pile of skin and bones, walking around trying to participate in life.
He didn't listen to me. I felt chastised, like how dare I waste his time? I felt diminished, like a small child told to get over it because life is hard. I felt like I'd been told to quit whining. To suck it up and get back to work.
I would never stand for that now. I would insist that he listen, I would repeat myself, I would tell him he misunderstood. And if he still didn't listen, I would leave him and take my business elsewhere.
I was incredibly vulnerable at that time and did not know how to fight for myself. I did not know I could insist on certain tests. I did not feel safe questioning what he told me. I believed doctors truly knew more about my body than I did.
I have had many incredible doctors. Doctors who listened and cared. Doctors who were more concerned about making me feel better than I was. I have friends who are doctors. I have a brother who is a doctor. I have great respect for doctors.
But I no longer think they know more about my body than I do. When I say something is not right, then it should be respected. Even if I can't prove it or put it into words. My doctor and I are supposed to be a team. We are supposed to work together to find the solution.
I will never know if he could have helped me. Maybe if we had run a blood test at that time something would have turned up. Maybe I wouldn't still be fighting the debilitating fatigue 10 years later. Maybe there were answers then that were too far gone by the time I found a doctor who would listen to me.
I will not allow myself to be ignored by a doctor again. Ever.