Thursday, 12 September 2013

Access: DENIED

Happy Autumn one and all!

I want to share with you an experience I had last week which in my world has unfortunately become only too common. My rheumatologist who I have been with since I was 18 - who supports me fully with my decision to treat myself holistically - is now semi-retired. It has become increasingly difficult to get an appointment with him and soon he will retire completely and I will be left with a team of 'text-book readers', as I like to call them. As in, the young rheumies straight out of med school who think that no matter what you tell them, you can't be right because they read about it in a text book and heard about it in a lecture so they must be right. You know what? As someone who has suffered with the same illness for 27 years and has overcome the worst of it more than most people are able to, I think I am better qualified to make those decisions and I hate these young Dr's who think otherwise and are condescending. ("I'm sorry Miss Vaknine, but if you don't take these infection-inducing, life-threatening, organ damaging drugs, your joints will be permanently damaged and there will be nothing we can do to fix it, and it will all be your own fault, not ours." "Actually Dr know-it-all, I've had this since I was 2 and aside from a 10 month stint where I took a drug that nearly killed me, the rest of the 27 years have been drug free and lo and behold! I have no damaged joints! My joints and bones and muscles and organs are in better condition than any of the people who have been on these drugs for long periods of time and, actually, everything about my body is how it should be for a normal 29 year old. Explain that??") You get the gist... But they still don't EVER look at me and say, oh, she might have a point, look how healthy she is, perhaps there is something in this - 'why don't you tell me more about that Miss Vaknine?' - said no conventional Dr ever! Aside from Dr Keat... he is wonderful. Agrees that whatever works for me and keeps me looking and feeling normal is what I should continue with and should I need an injection or a draining or some advice every so often, he is there to help... anyway he recommended a new rheumy that I should go and see so I can - begrudgingly - start with a new one so that I'm not left in the lurch when Dr Keat retired.

So I went... She barely looked at me - always a great sign when they're more interested in the notes in front of them than the person in front of them. I'm sure if she gave me 10 minutes I could tell her more about me than the notes could. The first thing she said was 'how can I help?' I told her I needed a new rheumatologist as my current one was retiring. Second question? What medications are you on.... and this is always the volatile part... 'None. I treat myself with homeopathy, supplements, diet and other holistic therapies such as kinesiology, osteopathy, acupuncture...' she smirked, and replied coldly... 'ok, so you don't have an ACTUAL treatment plan?' 'Errr that is an ACTUAL treatament plan, just not the one you administer. I appreciate and respect what you do but I choose to treat myself in this way, it is what has worked for me personally over the years.' 'You do know that your joints will start getting very damaged very soon don't you?' Here she goes.... 'Yes Dr, a paediatric rheumatologist told that to my parents when I was 2. I'm now 29. Still waiting.' 'Well that's not a very good attitude is it?' 'Well, I think it's MY attitude, it's my decision, it's my choice. It works for me. I have no joint damage, have never had surgery, I have no deformities. I feel good, that's the main thing isn't it?' 'No,' she answers, 'I'm very sorry but if you're not willing to follow the treatment plan recommended by us then I'm afraid this isn't the right place for you, I think you should find another rheumatologist.'

I would like to say I was shocked, but I wasn't. I've had this before and have heard it from other people who have been through it. 'Are you saying you refuse to treat me because I treat my illness holistically?' I asked. 'I'm saying that I don't think this is the right place for you.' 'Yes, I think you're probably right.' And with that I got up and left.

I'm not an expert, but I'm sure that when doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, they swear to treat all patients free of judgement and discrimination.... does anyone know if what she did was even legal? I wouldn't want to see her anyway but it would be good to know...

Whether or not I use their medications, I deserve to be monitored like everyone else with the illness. I should have my blood tests and xrays and scans when needed and have a doctor read them to me... no??

So, this was the story. I'd like to hear your thoughts on it... was she right in turning me away? Or are you in agreement that people have the right to choose how they treat their bodies when it comes to illness and anything else? If someone is clearly harming themselves its different. But the facts speak for themselves here when you look at me and look at my scans and bloodwork. So opinions please?