Wednesday, March 13

Allergic Reaction

I took Cadey for an allergy skin test.  She's not allergic to anything (even though she may still have gastrointestinal sensitivities that would explain symptoms but not show up on this test).

But I am allergic to something, or rather, someone: the doctor.  And I will NOT be going back.

The conversation went something like this.

Doc: Tell me more about why you came
Me: Well, the family doctor wanted to rule out allergies as a cause for Cadey's rashes
Doc: OK, tell me about the rashes, how long to they last?
Me: it varies, totally unpredictable.
Doc: does she react to other things? Soap? Lotion? Did she react to her baby shots?
Me: It doesn't seem like it, and she hasn't had shots yet so I don't know
Doc: Why not?
Me (really not wanting to get into it): oh, there are lots of reasons.
Doc: Like what?
Me (big sigh): just lots of reasons
Doc: well, what are they?
Me: I've done quite a bit of research...
Doc: *sarcastic and cutting me off* Oh, I didn't realize you were an epidemiologist.  What is it that you do?
Me: silently stewing.

Doc: so have you ever seen a polio patient?
Me: silent
Doc: HAVE YOU????
Me: no (stewing and thinking, really? polio?)
Doc: well, iron lungs are coming back, they're bringing them back - you might want to look into that and change your mind.
Me: silent  (willing myself to be silent) *checks out*

The rest of the appointment was a total disaster.  The doctor over-explained each test with great speed and technical terms, concluding each explanation with a disparaging, "I don't know how much of that you can understand" when I would ask a simple process question.  It was horrible and I just wanted to escape.

Really, it's just another point against doctors, a group which I *try* to evaluate individually and with grace.  Every experience like this makes me generally more distrustful.  It's really unfortunate, and makes me MOST thankful for our doctors who do not act this way. So, because I was not prepared to discuss it then, I am now writing one of those pointless open letters. OK maybe catharsis is the point.

Dear Doctor,
If you don't want to hear my answer, it is not acceptable to push me into answering just so that you can cut me off.  Also, it is not ok to use sarcasm in your office toward anyone.  It is not professional; it's also very unkind and almost always ineffective.  Third, you do not know me, and yet, you are making assumptions about my intelligence. This does not make me value your obvious intelligence or years of expertise more.  Fourth, if you truly think I can't handle researching to decide if or when I should vaccinate my children, why would you assume that I can handle researching iron lungs?

Lastly, if you are going to try to convince me of the need to vaccinate, please use something that is a little more of a known and proven risk than a wild polio outbreak in an Amish community almost 34 years ago.  Maybe you could site the whooping cough outbreak in California in 2010 or Washington State just last year, or the 3 cases of measles last year that "really had Michigan doctors worried."  Perhaps you could regale me with horror stories as other doctors have done. Maybe that would be more effective.  (But probably not.)  Remember: honey is more effective than vinegar.

I will not be back to your office.



AuntCat said...

I'm so sorry Jenny. It's obvious that rudeness transcends EVERY occupation. There are so many other things he could have said to express his passion for the need for people to get vaccines. I hope you are able to find someone else if you need an allergy specialist again.

Marplots said...

Sounds like a mismatch. Did you go to the doctor for his medical expertise or some other reason? I can see how the doctor might be frustrated - it's as if you are dismissing his training and knowledge.

I wonder what the doctor would have to say about you as a patient?

TwoMuths said...

@Marplots - this doctor is an allergy specialist. I have discussed the pros and cons of vaccination with my family doctor, at length. I did not consult the allergist on matters pertaining to vaccination.

Marplots said...

I assumed an allergy specialist would also be an MD. Understand the concern stems from what they believe is best for the kid, not concern for your beliefs. If I thought you were harming your child, I'd start out miffed too.

I am biased -- I have a degree in a medical field. The guy/gal was being a jerk, but I can see how you might have been stereotyped based on a perception that you were "fringe."

If you really want to stir up trouble, tell the specialist you are using homeopathic remedies.

Momto5 RachelJoy Photography said...

ugh, even though i choose to be a vaccinator....that is not a good experience!~ sooo sorry!!!so frustrating when you are really searching for answers to something else...

Leah said...

I had a similar experience a few months ago. A local specialist questioned me and flat out stated my "incompetence" in front of my 11 year old daughter. I was furious! I recommend actually write a letter to the doctor. I know you're very busy but it could help educate him and other patients. Also, we have always gone to the allergists at Domino Farms with U of M and have had great experiences there. They have never said anything about my children's vaccine status.

TwoMuths said...

@Marplots - I was trying specifically not to stir up trouble, and that is my concern. I tried to evade the question and the reason for this post is not to stir up vaccine controversy - I respect and encourage all parents to make informed choices and would not cast judgement on anyone who chooses differently than we do. My primary concern was with the doctor's lack of professionalism. You can disagree with me and feel strongly about it and not be insulting. I deeply value intelligent discussions from opposing points of view.

The specialist was supposed to help me within his area of expertise - I expect that his continuing research and education is within his specific field. And I expect professionalism with anyone I pay money to for services rendered. My family doctor can (and does!) discuss the spectrum of whole health with me.

I will continue to research as I have always done, using medical/scientific-community accepted, credible sources such as the CDC website, and I will continue to be an informed consumer. I have a feeling by the things you are saying that you may not know me very well. I can't be sure because I am unfamiliar with your user name. However I would be happy to discuss the specifics of my research with you in a private conversation. My contact information is on my blog sidebar.

Laura Railing said...

Wow. It's amazing the nerve of some people. Why do they think insulting will make minds change?! Sheesh.

On another note, have you thought about/heard of biofeedback? They do it here at a local salon and it's really pain free and can very specifically rule out allergies. Seriously, they take a hair sample and saliva swab and plug it in and that is that. It's not covered by insurance, but we had friends who did it and it was well worth the $75 to find out their daughter was specifically allergic to cheddar, not dairy, and not have to endure all the pokes.

Karen said...

Yep, totally warrants a letter to this medical "professional." No matter what the topic or how strongly he felt, there is never any excuse to treat patients like that! I've had similar experiences and each one makes me madder than the last. So sorry! You stick to your guns, mama. No one has to give account for your parenting choices but you two.

Marplots said...

What interests me more than who is right or wrong in the vaccine debate is how the failure in communication comes about. I can't imagine either party got what they wanted from the interaction.

We have two people with informed opinions, strongly held. On one side is someone trained in medicine who likely would rather treat a disease rather than a person and feels attacked because their expertise isn't recognized. On the other, we have a patient who has come to their own conclusion after doing independent research. I detect a certain arrogance on both sides of the conversation.

When the doctor asks for your opinion, it seemed like a willingness to engage, but the patient declines twice. How is the doctor to know the opinion is well grounded?

The arrogance on the patient side is treating the doctor like some "medicine machine" instead of a human being who wants to engage. The patient doesn't want the doctor to be anything more than an allergist, a diagnostic robot. The arrogance on the doctor side is thinking they are the sole holder of an authoritative opinion and thinking they can punish and unruly patient or browbeat them into submission.

Neither is recognizing the humanity of the other and neither seems willing to compromise. It's a recipe for disaster with fault enough for both participants.

TwoMuths said...

@Marplots, you're right. I should have been better prepared and more willing to share when first asked. And I shouldn't have made so many assumptions.

Anonymous said...

My Sister iN law went threw the same thing when her boys were little I will have to ask her but she got a card and when the dr started to hound her about her boys not having shots she would pull that card out and the Dr would not say another word. I will ask for you. And good for you about the shots

Kevin Marshall said...
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