More Than Just ‘Imaginary’
It took over four years to get my diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. This might not sound like a lot but for a nine year old going through excruciating pain, both physically and mentally, every day seemed like forever.
This is one of hardest pieces of writing I have ever done. Perhaps this is because it is so difficult to express all my experiences and emotions over four years into such few words. To put it in four and rather kind words, my doctor was incompetent.
Back in 2004 when I was just nine years old I was suffering with extreme abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and stunted growth. As many sufferers may recognise these are classic symptoms of either Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Both are chronic and both are incurable. So it was only natural that my family had a feeling there was something wrong with me and so took me to the hospital. This doctor supposedly worked as a consultant paediatric with ‘skills’ in toileting issues, chronic pain and fatigue. Unfortunately he still does.
In a word he treated me dreadfully. I have read his profile recently and it still states that he believes tests and investigations are rather ‘unnecessary’. He was very reluctant to treat me. I have to say that most of our appointments were spent going through poo charts. Any blood tests that we arranged he would ignore the results and pass my blood off as being normal. One point down the line after much pain, ambulances and fighting, he put me on laxatives. I was already going to the toilet at least six times a day so laxatives were not the correct treatment for me. I just accepted it then, but now I know the truth.
What makes it so much worse is that he branded my disease as ‘imaginary’. He put it down to an ‘over anxious mother’. In reality I was suffering from an unknown serious condition and he just could not accept it. My mum was never over anxious; she was just doing what anyone would do for their loved ones, seek help. Unfortunately this help was not given in the right moral way.
Yes we all make mistakes as human beings but it is not acceptable on any level to belittle or insult someone. Plus his insults didn’t make any sense. How could all my pain be a result of someone else’s worry? The answer is it can’t be. My voice was muffled as I was not allowed to express my feelings to someone was supposed to be a professional.
After four years of fighting with my doctor, we had enough. We managed to get a second opinion. After an endoscopy and colonoscopy I found out I was suffering from Crohn’s Disease. My new ‘second’ doctor urged the ‘first’ accountable doctor to apologise. All my mum received was a half-hearted phone call. The scars will never truly heal.
One of these scars is the photograph below. It is taken in Gran Canaria at the time when I was undergoing the laxative treatment. I do not remember the holiday for its beautiful scenery but spending most of the day in the toilet. Every time I look at the photograph it reminds me of the struggle I went through, but also the amount of strength I have now have and the unwillingness to allow my voice to be silenced again.
Gran Canaria, April 2005:
‘Smiling has always been easier than explaining why I’m sad.’ (© 2014 IdleHearts)
The point of this article is not to rant or to bash this specific doctor. There are many doctors who are extremely supportive and some are even lifesavers. It is just unfortunate that I and many others out there have come across those horrible few. Some do not even receive an apology for all their pain.
No, the point of this article is to raise awareness for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, which are two very real diseases. So please do share this blog article. Also if you or your loved ones are experiencing any sort of pain and suspect something is wrong, do not let anyone else pass it off as simply imaginary. Speak out against them. You deserve to receive the right support and treatment you need to strive in society. You have the right to be happy. Do not let anyone take this away from you. I know I won’t.
Stay strong everyone and thanks for the brilliant support.